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Full text of "The Complete Sherlock Holmes"

The Complete Sherlock Holmes 



Arthur Conan Doyle 



Table of contents 

A Study In Scarlet 1 

The Sign of the Four 63 

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 

A Scandal in Bohemia 119 

The Red-Headed League 135 

A Case of Identity 149 

The Boscombe Valley Mystery 159 

The Five Orange Pips 173 

The Man with the Twisted Lip 185 

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 199 

The Adventure of the Speckled Band 211 

The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 225 

The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 237 

The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 249 

The Adventure of the Copper Beeches 263 

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes 

Silver Blaze 279 

The Yellow Face 293 

The Stock-Broker's Clerk 305 

The "Gloria Scott" 315 

The Musgrave Ritual 327 

The Reigate Puzzle 339 

The Crooked Man 351 

The Resident Patient 361 

The Greek Interpreter 373 

The Naval Treaty 385 

The Final Problem 403 



111 



The Return of Sherlock Holmes 

The Adventure of the Empty House 

The Adventure of the Norwood Builder 

The Adventure of the Dancing Men 

The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist 

The Adventure of the Priory School 

The Adventure of Black Peter 

The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton 

The Adventure of the Six Napoleons 

The Adventure of the Three Students 

The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez 

The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter . . 

The Adventure of the Abbey Grange 

The Adventure of the Second Stain 



The Valley Of Fear . 



His Last Bow 

Preface 

The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge 

The Adventure of the Cardboard Box 

The Adventure of the Red Circle 

The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans . 

The Adventure of the Dying Detective 

The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax . . . 

The Adventure of the Devil's Foot 

His Last Bow 



417 



429 



443 



457 



469 



485 



497 



507 



51-9 



529 



543 



555 



569 



The Hound of the Baskervilles 583 



659 



741 



743 



761 



773 



787 



803 



813 



825 



839 



IV 



The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes 

Preface 

The Illustrious Client 

The Blanched Soldier 

The Adventure Of The Mazarin Stone .... 

The Adventure of the Three Gables 

The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire .... 
The Adventure of the Three Garridebs 

The Problem of Thor Bridge 

The Adventure of the Creeping Man 

The Adventure of the Lion's Mane 

The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger 

The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place . . 
The Adventure of the Retired Colourman . 



851 



853 



867 



879 



899 



909 



919 



933 



945 



957 



965 



975 



A Study In Scarlet 



A Study In Scarlet 



Table of contents 

Parti 

Mr. Sherlock Holmes I7 

The Science Of Deduction 10 

The Lauriston Garden Mystery 14 

What John Ranee Had To Tell 19 

Our Advertisement Brings A Visitor 22 

Tobias Gregson Shows What He Can Do 26 

Light In The Darkness 30 

Part II 

On The Great Alkali Plain 37 

The Flower Of Utah 41 

John Ferrier Talks With The Prophet 44 

A Flight For Life 46 

The Avenging Angels 51 

A Continuation Of The Reminiscences Of John Watson, M.D 55 

The Conclusion 59 



PART I. 

(Being a reprint from the reminiscences of 

John H. Watson, M.D., 

late of the Army Medical Department.) 



A Study In Scarlet 



CHAPTER I. 

Mr. Sherlock Holmes 




n the year 1878 I took my degree of 
Doctor of Medicine of the University of 
London, and proceeded to Netley to go 
through the course prescribed for sur- 
geons in the army. Having completed my studies 
there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northum- 
berland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon. The regi- 
ment was stationed in India at the time, and before 
I could join it, the second Afghan war had bro- 
ken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my 
corps had advanced through the passes, and was 
already deep in the enemy's country. I followed, 
however, with many other officers who were in the 
same situation as myself, and succeeded in reach- 
ing Candahar in safety, where I found my regi- 
ment, and at once entered upon my new duties. 

The campaign brought honours and promotion 
to many, but for me it had nothing but misfortune 
and disaster. I was removed from my brigade and 
attached to the Berkshires, with whom I served at 
the fatal battle of Maiwand. There I was struck 
on the shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which shat- 
tered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery. 
I should have fallen into the hands of the murder- 
ous Ghazis had it not been for the devotion and 
courage shown by Murray, my orderly, who threw 
me across a pack-horse, and succeeded in bringing 
me safely to the British lines. 

Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged 
hardships which I had undergone, I was removed, 
with a great train of wounded sufferers, to the base 
hospital at Peshawar. Here I rallied, and had al- 
ready improved so far as to be able to walk about 
the wards, and even to bask a little upon the ve- 
randah, when I was struck down by enteric fever, 
that curse of our Indian possessions. For months 
my life was despaired of, and when at last I came 
to myself and became convalescent, I was so weak 
and emaciated that a medical board determined 
that not a day should be lost in sending me back 
to England. I was dispatched, accordingly, in the 
troopship Orontes, and landed a month later on 
Portsmouth jetty, with my health irretrievably ru- 
ined, but with permission from a paternal govern- 
ment to spend the next nine months in attempting 
to improve it. 

I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was 
therefore as free as air — or as free as an income 
of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit 
a man to be. Under such circumstances, I natu- 
rally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into 



which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are 
irresistibly drained. There I stayed for some time 
at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a com- 
fortless, meaningless existence, and spending such 
money as I had, considerably more freely than I 
ought. So alarming did the state of my finances 
become, that I soon realized that I must either 
leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in 
the country, or that I must make a complete alter- 
ation in my style of living. Choosing the latter al- 
ternative, I began by making up my mind to leave 
the hotel, and to take up my quarters in some less 
pretentious and less expensive domicile. 

On the very day that I had come to this con- 
clusion, I was standing at the Criterion Bar, when 
some one tapped me on the shoulder, and turn- 
ing round I recognized young Stamford, who had 
been a dresser under me at Bart's. The sight of a 
friendly face in the great wilderness of London is 
a pleasant thing indeed to a lonely man. In old 
days Stamford had never been a particular crony 
of mine, but now I hailed him with enthusiasm, 
and he, in his turn, appeared to be delighted to 
see me. In the exuberance of my joy, I asked him 
to lunch with me at the Holborn, and we started 
off together in a hansom. 

"Whatever have you been doing with yourself, 
Watson?" he asked in undisguised wonder, as we 
rattled through the crowded London streets. "You 
are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut." 

I gave him a short sketch of my adventures, 
and had hardly concluded it by the time that we 
reached our destination. 

"Poor devil!" he said, commiseratingly, after he 
had listened to my misfortunes. "What are you up 
to now?" 

"Looking for lodgings," I answered. "Trying to 
solve the problem as to whether it is possible to 
get comfortable rooms at a reasonable price." 

"That's a strange thing," remarked my com- 
panion; "you are the second man to-day that has 
used that expression to me." 

"And who was the first?" I asked. 

"A fellow who is working at the chemical labo- 
ratory up at the hospital. He was bemoaning him- 
self this morning because he could not get some- 
one to go halves with him in some nice rooms 
which he had found, and which were too much 
for his purse." 

"By Jove!" I cried, "if he really wants someone 
to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very 



A Study In Scarlet 



man for him. I should prefer having a partner to 
being alone." 

Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me 
over his wine-glass. "You don't know Sherlock 
Holmes yet," he said; "perhaps you would not care 
for him as a constant companion." 

"Why, what is there against him?" 

"Oh, I didn't say there was anything against 
him. He is a little queer in his ideas — an enthusi- 
ast in some branches of science. As far as I know 
he is a decent fellow enough." 

"A medical student, I suppose?" said I. 

"No — I have no idea what he intends to go in 
for. I believe he is well up in anatomy, and he is a 
first-class chemist; but, as far as I know, he has 
never taken out any systematic medical classes. 
His studies are very desultory and eccentric, but 
he has amassed a lot of out-of-the way knowledge 
which would astonish his professors." 

"Did you never ask him what he was going in 
for?" I asked. 

"No; he is not a man that it is easy to draw out, 
though he can be communicative enough when the 
fancy seizes him. " 

"I should like to meet him," I said. "If I am to 
lodge with anyone, I should prefer a man of stu- 
dious and quiet habits. I am not strong enough yet 
to stand much noise or excitement. I had enough 
of both in Afghanistan to last me for the remain- 
der of my natural existence. How could I meet this 
friend of yours?" 

"He is sure to be at the laboratory," returned 
my companion. "He either avoids the place for 
weeks, or else he works there from morning to 
night. If you like, we shall drive round together 
after luncheon." 

"Certainly," I answered, and the conversation 
drifted away into other channels. 

As we made our way to the hospital after leav- 
ing the Holborn, Stamford gave me a few more 
particulars about the gentleman whom I proposed 
to take as a fellow-lodger. 

"You mustn't blame me if you don't get on with 
him," he said; "I know nothing more of him than 
I have learned from meeting him occasionally in 
the laboratory. You proposed this arrangement, so 
you must not hold me responsible." 

"If we don't get on it will be easy to part com- 
pany," I answered. "It seems to me, Stamford," I 
added, looking hard at my companion, "that you 
have some reason for washing your hands of the 



matter. Is this fellow's temper so formidable, or 
what is it? Don't be mealy-mouthed about it. " 

"It is not easy to express the inexpressible," 
he answered with a laugh. "Holmes is a little 
too scientific for my tastes — it approaches to cold- 
bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a 
little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out 
of malevolence, you understand, but simply out 
of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate 
idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think that 
he would take it himself with the same readiness. 
He appears to have a passion for definite and exact 
knowledge." 

"Very right too." 

"Yes, but it may be pushed to excess. When 
it comes to beating the subjects in the dissecting- 
rooms with a stick, it is certainly taking rather a 
bizarre shape." 

"Beating the subjects!" 

"Yes, to verify how far bruises may be pro- 
duced after death. I saw him at it with my own 
eyes." 

"And yet you say he is not a medical student?" 

"No. Heaven knows what the objects of his 
studies are. But here we are, and you must 
form your own impressions about him." As he 
spoke, we turned down a narrow lane and passed 
through a small side-door, which opened into a 
wing of the great hospital. It was familiar ground 
to me, and I needed no guiding as we ascended the 
bleak stone staircase and made our way down the 
long corridor with its vista of whitewashed wall 
and dun-coloured doors. Near the further end a 
low arched passage branched away from it and led 
to the chemical laboratory. 

This was a lofty chamber, lined and littered 
with countless bottles. Broad, low tables were scat- 
tered about, which bristled with retorts, test-tubes, 
and little Bunsen lamps, with their blue flickering 
flames. There was only one student in the room, 
who was bending over a distant table absorbed in 
his work. At the sound of our steps he glanced 
round and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure. 
"I've found it! I've found it," he shouted to my 
companion, running towards us with a test-tube in 
his hand. "I have found a re-agent which is precip- 
itated by hoemoglobin, and by nothing else." Had 
he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could 
not have shone upon his features. 

"Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said Stam- 
ford, introducing us. 

"How are you?" he said cordially, gripping 
my hand with a strength for which I should 



A Study In Scarlet 



hardly have given him credit. "You have been in 
Afghanistan, I perceive." 

"How on earth did you know that?" I asked in 
astonishment. 

"Never mind," said he, chuckling to himself. 
"The question now is about hoemoglobin. No 
doubt you see the significance of this discovery of 
mine?" 

"It is interesting, chemically, no doubt," I an- 
swered, "but practically — " 

"Why, man, it is the most practical medico- 
legal discovery for years. Don't you see that it 
gives us an infallible test for blood stains. Come 
over here now!" He seized me by the coat-sleeve 
in his eagerness, and drew me over to the table at 
which he had been working. "Let us have some 
fresh blood," he said, digging a long bodkin into 
his finger, and drawing off the resulting drop of 
blood in a chemical pipette. "Now, I add this small 
quantity of blood to a litre of water. You perceive 
that the resulting mixture has the appearance of 
pure water. The proportion of blood cannot be 
more than one in a million. I have no doubt, how- 
ever, that we shall be able to obtain the characteris- 
tic reaction." As he spoke, he threw into the vessel 
a few white crystals, and then added some drops 
of a transparent fluid. In an instant the contents 
assumed a dull mahogany colour, and a brownish 
dust was precipitated to the bottom of the glass jar. 

"Ha! ha!" he cried, clapping his hands, and 
looking as delighted as a child with a new toy. 
"What do you think of that?" 

"It seems to be a very delicate test," I remarked. 

"Beautiful! beautiful! The old Guiacum test 
was very clumsy and uncertain. So is the micro- 
scopic examination for blood corpuscles. The lat- 
ter is valueless if the stains are a few hours old. 
Now, this appears to act as well whether the blood 
is old or new. Had this test been invented, there 
are hundreds of men now walking the earth who 
would long ago have paid the penalty of their 
crimes." 

"Indeed!" I murmured. 

"Criminal cases are continually hinging upon 
that one point. A man is suspected of a crime 
months perhaps after it has been committed. His 
linen or clothes are examined, and brownish stains 
discovered upon them. Are they blood stains, or 
mud stains, or rust stains, or fruit stains, or what 
are they? That is a question which has puzzled 
many an expert, and why? Because there was no 
reliable test. Now we have the Sherlock Holmes' 
test, and there will no longer be any difficulty." 



His eyes fairly glittered as he spoke, and he put 
his hand over his heart and bowed as if to some ap- 
plauding crowd conjured up by his imagination. 

"You are to be congratulated," I remarked, con- 
siderably surprised at his enthusiasm. 

"There was the case of Von Bischoff at Frank- 
fort last year. He would certainly have been hung 
had this test been in existence. Then there was 
Mason of Bradford, and the notorious Muller, and 
Lefevre of Montpellier, and Samson of new Or- 
leans. I could name a score of cases in which it 
would have been decisive." 

"You seem to be a walking calendar of crime," 
said Stamford with a laugh. "You might start a pa- 
per on those lines. Call it the 'Police News of the 
Past.' " 

"Very interesting reading it might be made, 
too," remarked Sherlock Holmes, sticking a small 
piece of plaster over the prick on his finger. "I have 
to be careful," he continued, turning to me with a 
smile, "for I dabble with poisons a good deal." He 
held out his hand as he spoke, and I noticed that it 
was all mottled over with similar pieces of plaster, 
and discoloured with strong acids. 

"We came here on business," said Stamford, sit- 
ting down on a high three-legged stool, and push- 
ing another one in my direction with his foot. "My 
friend here wants to take diggings, and as you 
were complaining that you could get no one to go 
halves with you, I thought that I had better bring 
you together." 

Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea 
of sharing his rooms with me. "I have my eye on a 
suite in Baker Street," he said, "which would suit 
us down to the ground. You don't mind the smell 
of strong tobacco, I hope?" 

"I always smoke 'ship's' myself," I answered. 

"That's good enough. I generally have chem- 
icals about, and occasionally do experiments. 
Would that annoy you?" 

"By no means." 

"Let me see — what are my other shortcomings. 
I get in the dumps at times, and don't open my 
mouth for days on end. You must not think I am 
sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I'll 
soon be right. What have you to confess now? It's 
just as well for two fellows to know the worst of 
one another before they begin to live together. " 

I laughed at this cross-examination. "I keep a 
bull pup," I said, "and I object to rows because 
my nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts of 
ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I have 
another set of vices when I'm well, but those are 
the principal ones at present." 



A Study In Scarlet 



"Do you include violin-playing in your cate- 
gory of rows?" he asked, anxiously. 

"It depends on the player," I answered. "A 
well-played violin is a treat for the gods — a badly- 
played one — " 

"Oh, that's all right," he cried, with a merry 
laugh. "I think we may consider the thing as set- 
tled — that is, if the rooms are agreeable to you." 

"When shall we see them?" 

"Call for me here at noon to-morrow, and we'll 
go together and settle everything," he answered. 

"All right — noon exactly," said I, shaking his 
hand. 

We left him working among his chemicals, and 
we walked together towards my hotel. 

"By the way," I asked suddenly, stopping and 
turning upon Stamford, "how the deuce did he 
know that I had come from Afghanistan?" 



My companion smiled an enigmatical smile. 
"That's just his little peculiarity," he said. "A good 
many people have wanted to know how he finds 
things out." 

"Oh! a mystery is it?" I cried, rubbing my 
hands. "This is very piquant. I am much obliged 
to you for bringing us together. 'The proper study 
of mankind is man,' you know." 

"You must study him, then," Stamford said, as 
he bade me good-bye. "You'll find him a knotty 
problem, though. I'll wager he learns more about 
you than you about him. Good-bye." 

"Good-bye," I answered, and strolled on to my 
hotel, considerably interested in my new acquain- 
tance. 



CHAPTER II. 

The Science Of Deduction 



We met next day as he had arranged, and in- 
spected the rooms at No. 221B, Baker Street, of 
which he had spoken at our meeting. They con- 
sisted of a couple of comfortable bed-rooms and 
a single large airy sitting-room, cheerfully fur- 
nished, and illuminated by two broad windows. 
So desirable in every way were the apartments, 
and so moderate did the terms seem when divided 
between us, that the bargain was concluded upon 
the spot, and we at once entered into possession. 
That very evening I moved my things round from 
the hotel, and on the following morning Sherlock 
Holmes followed me with several boxes and port- 
manteaus. For a day or two we were busily em- 
ployed in unpacking and laying out our property 
to the best advantage. That done, we gradually be- 
gan to settle down and to accommodate ourselves 
to our new surroundings. 

Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live 
with. He was quiet in his ways, and his habits 
were regular. It was rare for him to be up after ten 
at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and 
gone out before I rose in the morning. Sometimes 
he spent his day at the chemical laboratory, some- 
times in the dissecting-rooms, and occasionally in 



long walks, which appeared to take him into the 
lowest portions of the City. Nothing could exceed 
his energy when the working fit was upon him; 
but now and again a reaction would seize him, and 
for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the 
sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a 
muscle from morning to night. On these occasions 
I have noticed such a dreamy, vacant expression in 
his eyes, that I might have suspected him of being 
addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the 
temperance and cleanliness of his whole life for- 
bidden such a notion. 

As the weeks went by, my interest in him and 
my curiosity as to his aims in life, gradually deep- 
ened and increased. His very person and appear- 
ance were such as to strike the attention of the 
most casual observer. In height he was rather over 
six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to 
be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and 
piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to 
which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose 
gave his whole expression an air of alertness and 
decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and 
squareness which mark the man of determination. 
His hands were invariably blotted with ink and 



10 



A Study In Scarlet 



stained with chemicals, yet he was possessed of ex- 
traordinary delicacy of touch, as I frequently had 
occasion to observe when I watched him manipu- 
lating his fragile philosophical instruments. 

The reader may set me down as a hopeless 
busybody, when I confess how much this man 
stimulated my curiosity, and how often I endeav- 
oured to break through the reticence which he 
showed on all that concerned himself. Before pro- 
nouncing judgment, however, be it remembered, 
how objectless was my life, and how little there 
was to engage my attention. My health forbade me 
from venturing out unless the weather was excep- 
tionally genial, and I had no friends who would 
call upon me and break the monotony of my daily 
existence. Under these circumstances, I eagerly 
hailed the little mystery which hung around my 
companion, and spent much of my time in endeav- 
ouring to unravel it. 

He was not studying medicine. He had him- 
self, in reply to a question, confirmed Stamford's 
opinion upon that point. Neither did he appear to 
have pursued any course of reading which might 
fit him for a degree in science or any other recog- 
nized portal which would give him an entrance 
into the learned world. Yet his zeal for certain 
studies was remarkable, and within eccentric lim- 
its his knowledge was so extraordinarily ample 
and minute that his observations have fairly as- 
tounded me. Surely no man would work so hard 
or attain such precise information unless he had 
some definite end in view. Desultory readers are 
seldom remarkable for the exactness of their learn- 
ing. No man burdens his mind with small matters 
unless he has some very good reason for doing so. 

His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowl- 
edge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and 
politics he appeared to know next to nothing. 
Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired 
in the naivest way who he might be and what he 
had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, 
when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of 
the Copernican Theory and of the composition of 
the Solar System. That any civilized human being 
in this nineteenth century should not be aware that 
the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to 
me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly 
realize it. 

"You appear to be astonished," he said, smil- 
ing at my expression of surprise. "Now that I do 
know it I shall do my best to forget it." 

"To forget it!" 

"You see," he explained, "I consider that a 
man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, 



and you have to stock it with such furniture as 
you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every 
sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge 
which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or 
at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so 
that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. 
Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as 
to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have 
nothing but the tools which may help him in doing 
his work, but of these he has a large assortment, 
and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to 
think that that little room has elastic walls and can 
distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes 
a time when for every addition of knowledge you 
forget something that you knew before. It is of the 
highest importance, therefore, not to have useless 
facts elbowing out the useful ones." 

"But the Solar System!" I protested. 

"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted 
impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. 
If we went round the moon it would not make a 
pennyworth of difference to me or to my work." 

I was on the point of asking him what that 
work might be, but something in his manner 
showed me that the question would be an unwel- 
come one. I pondered over our short conversa- 
tion, however, and endeavoured to draw my de- 
ductions from it. He said that he would acquire 
no knowledge which did not bear upon his object. 
Therefore all the knowledge which he possessed 
was such as would be useful to him. I enumerated 
in my own mind all the various points upon which 
he had shown me that he was exceptionally well- 
informed. I even took a pencil and jotted them 
down. I could not help smiling at the document 
when I had completed it. It ran in this way — 



Sherlock Holmes — his limits. 



-Nil. 



1. Knowledge of Literature.- 

2. Philosophy. — Nil. 

3. Astronomy. — Nil. 

4. Politics. — Feeble. 

5. Botany. — Variable. Well up in belladonna, 
opium, and poisons generally. Knows noth- 
ing of practical gardening. 

6. Geology. — Practical, but limited. Tells at a 
glance different soils from each other. Af- 
ter walks has shown me splashes upon his 
trousers, and told me by their colour and 
consistence in what part of London he had 
received them. 

7. Chemistry. — Profound. 

8. Anatomy. — Accurate, but unsystematic. 



11 



A Study In Scarlet 



9. Sensational Literature. — Immense. He ap- 
pears to know every detail of every horror 
perpetrated in the century. 

10. Plays the violin well. 

11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and 
swordsman. 

12. Has a good practical knowledge of British 
law. 

When I had got so far in my list I threw it into 
the fire in despair. "If I can only find what the 
fellow is driving at by reconciling all these accom- 
plishments, and discovering a calling which needs 
them all," I said to myself, "I may as well give up 
the attempt at once." 

I see that I have alluded above to his pow- 
ers upon the violin. These were very remark- 
able, but as eccentric as all his other accomplish- 
ments. That he could play pieces, and difficult 
pieces, I knew well, because at my request he 
has played me some of Mendelssohn's Lieder, and 
other favourites. When left to himself, however, he 
would seldom produce any music or attempt any 
recognized air. Leaning back in his arm-chair of an 
evening, he would close his eyes and scrape care- 
lessly at the fiddle which was thrown across his 
knee. Sometimes the chords were sonorous and 
melancholy. Occasionally they were fantastic and 
cheerful. Clearly they reflected the thoughts which 
possessed him, but whether the music aided those 
thoughts, or whether the playing was simply the 
result of a whim or fancy was more than I could 
determine. I might have rebelled against these ex- 
asperating solos had it not been that he usually 
terminated them by playing in quick succession a 
whole series of my favourite airs as a slight com- 
pensation for the trial upon my patience. 

During the first week or so we had no callers, 
and I had begun to think that my companion was 
as friendless a man as I was myself. Presently, 
however, I found that he had many acquaintances, 
and those in the most different classes of society. 
There was one little sallow rat-faced, dark-eyed fel- 
low who was introduced to me as Mr. Lestrade, 
and who came three or four times in a single 
week. One morning a young girl called, fashion- 
ably dressed, and stayed for half an hour or more. 
The same afternoon brought a grey-headed, seedy 
visitor, looking like a Jew pedlar, who appeared 
to me to be much excited, and who was closely 
followed by a slipshod elderly woman. On an- 
other occasion an old white-haired gentleman had 
an interview with my companion; and on another 
a railway porter in his velveteen uniform. When 



any of these nondescript individuals put in an ap- 
pearance, Sherlock Holmes used to beg for the use 
of the sitting-room, and I would retire to my bed- 
room. He always apologized to me for putting me 
to this inconvenience. "I have to use this room as a 
place of business," he said, "and these people are 
my clients." Again I had an opportunity of asking 
him a point blank question, and again my delicacy 
prevented me from forcing another man to confide 
in me. I imagined at the time that he had some 
strong reason for not alluding to it, but he soon 
dispelled the idea by coming round to the subject 
of his own accord. 

It was upon the 4th of March, as I have good 
reason to remember, that I rose somewhat earlier 
than usual, and found that Sherlock Holmes had 
not yet finished his breakfast. The landlady had 
become so accustomed to my late habits that my 
place had not been laid nor my coffee prepared. 
With the unreasonable petulance of mankind I 
rang the bell and gave a curt intimation that I was 
ready. Then I picked up a magazine from the ta- 
ble and attempted to while away the time with it, 
while my companion munched silently at his toast. 
One of the articles had a pencil mark at the head- 
ing, and I naturally began to run my eye through 
it. 

Its somewhat ambitious title was "The Book of 
Life," and it attempted to show how much an ob- 
servant man might learn by an accurate and sys- 
tematic examination of all that came in his way 
It struck me as being a remarkable mixture of 
shrewdness and of absurdity. The reasoning was 
close and intense, but the deductions appeared to 
me to be far-fetched and exaggerated. The writer 
claimed by a momentary expression, a twitch of a 
muscle or a glance of an eye, to fathom a man's 
inmost thoughts. Deceit, according to him, was an 
impossibility in the case of one trained to observa- 
tion and analysis. His conclusions were as infalli- 
ble as so many propositions of Euclid. So startling 
would his results appear to the uninitiated that un- 
til they learned the processes by which he had ar- 
rived at them they might well consider him as a 
necromancer. 

"From a drop of water," said the writer, "a lo- 
gician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or 
a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or 
the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature 
of which is known whenever we are shown a sin- 
gle link of it. Like all other arts, the Science of 
Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be 
acquired by long and patient study nor is life long 
enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest 



12 



A Study In Scarlet 



possible perfection in it. Before turning to those 
moral and mental aspects of the matter which 
present the greatest difficulties, let the enquirer be- 
gin by mastering more elementary problems. Let 
him, on meeting a fellow -mortal, learn at a glance 
to distinguish the history of the man, and the trade 
or profession to which he belongs. Puerile as such 
an exercise may seem, it sharpens the faculties of 
observation, and teaches one where to look and 
what to look for. By a man's finger nails, by his 
coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser knees, by 
the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his 
expression, by his shirt cuffs — by each of these 
things a man's calling is plainly revealed. That 
all united should fail to enlighten the competent 
enquirer in any case is almost inconceivable." 

"What ineffable twaddle!" I cried, slapping the 
magazine down on the table, "I never read such 
rubbish in my life." 

"What is it?" asked Sherlock Holmes. 

"Why, this article," I said, pointing at it with 
my egg spoon as I sat down to my breakfast. "I 
see that you have read it since you have marked it. 
I don't deny that it is smartly written. It irritates 
me though. It is evidently the theory of some arm- 
chair lounger who evolves all these neat little para- 
doxes in the seclusion of his own study. It is not 
practical. I should like to see him clapped down 
in a third class carriage on the Underground, and 
asked to give the trades of all his fellow-travellers. 
I would lay a thousand to one against him." 

"You would lose your money," Sherlock 
Holmes remarked calmly. "As for the article I 
wrote it myself." 

"You!" 

"Yes, I have a turn both for observation and for 
deduction. The theories which I have expressed 
there, and which appear to you to be so chimerical 
are really extremely practical — so practical that I 
depend upon them for my bread and cheese." 

"And how?" I asked involuntarily. 

"Well, I have a trade of my own. I suppose 
I am the only one in the world. I'm a consult- 
ing detective, if you can understand what that is. 
Here in London we have lots of Government de- 
tectives and lots of private ones. When these fel- 
lows are at fault they come to me, and I manage 
to put them on the right scent. They lay all the ev- 
idence before me, and I am generally able, by the 
help of my knowledge of the history of crime, to 
set them straight. There is a strong family resem- 
blance about misdeeds, and if you have all the de- 
tails of a thousand at your finger ends, it is odd if 



you can't unravel the thousand and first. Lestrade 
is a well-known detective. He got himself into a 
fog recently over a forgery case, and that was what 
brought him here." 

"And these other people?" 

"They are mostly sent on by private inquiry 
agencies. They are all people who are in trouble 
about something, and want a little enlightening. I 
listen to their story, they listen to my comments, 
and then I pocket my fee." 

"But do you mean to say," I said, "that with- 
out leaving your room you can unravel some knot 
which other men can make nothing of, although 
they have seen every detail for themselves?" 

"Quite so. I have a kind of intuition that way. 
Now and again a case turns up which is a little 
more complex. Then I have to bustle about and see 
things with my own eyes. You see I have a lot of 
special knowledge which I apply to the problem, 
and which facilitates matters wonderfully. Those 
rules of deduction laid down in that article which 
aroused your scorn, are invaluable to me in prac- 
tical work. Observation with me is second na- 
ture. You appeared to be surprised when I told 
you, on our first meeting, that you had come from 
Afghanistan." 

"You were told, no doubt." 

"Nothing of the sort. I knew you came from 
Afghanistan. From long habit the train of thoughts 
ran so swiftly through my mind, that I arrived at 
the conclusion without being conscious of interme- 
diate steps. There were such steps, however. The 
train of reasoning ran, 'Here is a gentleman of a 
medical type, but with the air of a military man. 
Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come 
from the tropics, for his face is dark, and that is 
not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are 
fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as 
his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been 
injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural man- 
ner. Where in the tropics could an English army 
doctor have seen much hardship and got his arm 
wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.' The whole 
train of thought did not occupy a second. I then re- 
marked that you came from Afghanistan, and you 
were astonished." 

"It is simple enough as you explain it," I said, 
smiling. "You remind me of Edgar Allen Poe's 
Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did 
exist outside of stories." 

Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. "No 
doubt you think that you are complimenting me 
in comparing me to Dupin," he observed. "Now, 



33 



A Study In Scarlet 



in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. 
That trick of his of breaking in on his friends' 
thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of 
an hour 's silence is really very showy and superfi- 
cial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but 
he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe 
appeared to imagine." 

"Have you read Gaboriau's works?" I asked. 
"Does Lecoq come up to your idea of a detective?" 

Sherlock Holmes sniffed sardonically. "Lecoq 
was a miserable bungler," he said, in an angry 
voice; "he had only one thing to recommend him, 
and that was his energy. That book made me pos- 
itively ill. The question was how to identify an 
unknown prisoner. I could have done it in twenty- 
four hours. Lecoq took six months or so. It might 
be made a text-book for detectives to teach them 
what to avoid." 

I felt rather indignant at having two characters 
whom I had admired treated in this cavalier style. 
I walked over to the window, and stood looking 
out into the busy street. "This fellow may be very 
clever," I said to myself, "but he is certainly very 
conceited." 

"There are no crimes and no criminals in these 
days," he said, querulously. "What is the use of 
having brains in our profession? I know well that 
I have it in me to make my name famous. No 
man lives or has ever lived who has brought the 
same amount of study and of natural talent to 
the detection of crime which I have done. And 
what is the result? There is no crime to detect, or, 
at most, some bungling villany with a motive so 
transparent that even a Scotland Yard official can 
see through it." 



I was still annoyed at his bumptious style of 
conversation. I thought it best to change the topic. 

"I wonder what that fellow is looking for?" I 
asked, pointing to a stalwart, plainly-dressed in- 
dividual who was walking slowly down the other 
side of the street, looking anxiously at the num- 
bers. He had a large blue envelope in his hand, 
and was evidently the bearer of a message. 

"You mean the retired sergeant of Marines," 
said Sherlock Holmes. 

"Brag and bounce!" thought I to myself. "He 
knows that I cannot verify his guess." 

The thought had hardly passed through my 
mind when the man whom we were watching 
caught sight of the number on our door, and ran 
rapidly across the roadway. We heard a loud 
knock, a deep voice below, and heavy steps as- 
cending the stair. 

"For Mr. Sherlock Holmes," he said, stepping 
into the room and handing my friend the letter. 

Here was an opportunity of taking the conceit 
out of him. He little thought of this when he made 
that random shot. "May I ask, my lad," I said, in 
the blandest voice, "what your trade may be?" 

"Commissionaire, sir," he said, gruffly. "Uni- 
form away for repairs." 

"And you were?" I asked, with a slightly mali- 
cious glance at my companion. 

"A sergeant, sir, Royal Marine Light Infantry, 
sir. No answer? Right, sir." 

He clicked his heels together, raised his hand 
in a salute, and was gone. 



CHAPTER III. 

The Lauriston Garden Mystery 



I confess that I was considerably startled by 
this fresh proof of the practical nature of my 
companion's theories. My respect for his powers 
of analysis increased wondrously. There still re- 
mained some lurking suspicion in my mind, how- 
ever, that the whole thing was a pre-arranged 
episode, intended to dazzle me, though what 
earthly object he could have in taking me in was 



past my comprehension. When I looked at him 
he had finished reading the note, and his eyes had 
assumed the vacant, lack-lustre expression which 
showed mental abstraction. 

"How in the world did you deduce that?" I 
asked. 

"Deduce what?" said he, petulantly. 



M 



A Study In Scarlet 



"Why, that he was a retired sergeant of 
Marines." 

"I have no time for trifles," he answered, 
brusquely; then with a smile, "Excuse my rude- 
ness. You broke the thread of my thoughts; but 
perhaps it is as well. So you actually were not able 
to see that that man was a sergeant of Marines?" 

"No, indeed." 

"It was easier to know it than to explain why 
I knew it. If you were asked to prove that two 
and two made four, you might find some difficulty, 
and yet you are quite sure of the fact. Even across 
the street I could see a great blue anchor tattooed 
on the back of the fellow's hand. That smacked 
of the sea. He had a military carriage, however, 
and regulation side whiskers. There we have the 
marine. He was a man with some amount of self- 
importance and a certain air of command. You 
must have observed the way in which he held his 
head and swung his cane. A steady, respectable, 
middle-aged man, too, on the face of him — all 
facts which led me to believe that he had been a 
sergeant." 

"Wonderful!" I ejaculated. 

"Commonplace," said Holmes, though I 
thought from his expression that he was pleased 
at my evident surprise and admiration. "I said just 
now that there were no criminals. It appears that 
I am wrong — look at this!" He threw me over the 
note which the commissionaire had brought. 

"Why," I cried, as I cast my eye over it, "this is 
terrible!" 

"It does seem to be a little out of the common," 
he remarked, calmly. "Would you mind reading it 
to me aloud?" 

This is the letter which I read to him — 

"My dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes: 

"There has been a bad business dur- 
ing the night at 3, Lauriston Gardens, 
off the Brixton Road. Our man on the 
beat saw a light there about two in 
the morning, and as the house was an 
empty one, suspected that something 
was amiss. He found the door open, 
and in the front room, which is bare 
of furniture, discovered the body of a 
gentleman, well dressed, and having 
cards in his pocket bearing the name 
of 'Enoch J. Drebber, Cleveland, Ohio, 
U.S.A.' There had been no robbery, nor 
is there any evidence as to how the 
man met his death. There are marks 



of blood in the room, but there is no 
wound upon his person. We are at a 
loss as to how he came into the empty 
house; indeed, the whole affair is a 
puzzler. If you can come round to the 
house any time before twelve, you will 
find me there. I have left everything 
in statu quo until I hear from you. If 
you are unable to come I shall give you 
fuller details, and would esteem it a 
great kindness if you would favour me 
with your opinion. 

"Yours faithfully, 
"Tobias Gregson." 

"Gregson is the smartest of the Scotland 
Yarders," my friend remarked; "he and Lestrade 
are the pick of a bad lot. They are both quick and 
energetic, but conventional — shockingly so. They 
have their knives into one another, too. They are 
as jealous as a pair of professional beauties. There 
will be some fun over this case if they are both put 
upon the scent." 

I was amazed at the calm way in which he rip- 
pled on. "Surely there is not a moment to be lost," 
I cried, "shall I go and order you a cab?" 

"I'm not sure about whether I shall go. I am the 
most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe 
leather — that is, when the fit is on me, for I can be 
spry enough at times." 

"Why, it is just such a chance as you have been 
longing for." 

"My dear fellow, what does it matter to me. 
Supposing I unravel the whole matter, you may be 
sure that Gregson, Lestrade, and Co. will pocket 
all the credit. That comes of being an unofficial 
personage." 

"But he begs you to help him." 

"Yes. He knows that I am his superior, and ac- 
knowledges it to me; but he would cut his tongue 
out before he would own it to any third person. 
However, we may as well go and have a look. I 
shall work it out on my own hook. I may have a 
laugh at them if I have nothing else. Come on!" 

He hustled on his overcoat, and bustled about 
in a way that showed that an energetic fit had su- 
perseded the apathetic one. 

"Get your hat," he said. 

"You wish me to come?" 

"Yes, if you have nothing better to do." A 
minute later we were both in a hansom, driving 
furiously for the Brixton Road. 

It was a foggy, cloudy morning, and a dun- 
coloured veil hung over the house-tops, looking 



35 



A Study In Scarlet 



like the reflection of the mud-coloured streets be- 
neath. My companion was in the best of spirits, 
and prattled away about Cremona fiddles, and the 
difference between a Stradivarius and an Amati. 
As for myself, I was silent, for the dull weather 
and the melancholy business upon which we were 
engaged, depressed my spirits. 

"You don't seem to give much thought to 
the matter in hand," I said at last, interrupting 
Holmes' musical disquisition. 

"No data yet," he answered. "It is a capital mis- 
take to theorize before you have all the evidence. 
It biases the judgment." 

"You will have your data soon," I remarked, 
pointing with my finger; "this is the Brixton Road, 
and that is the house, if I am not very much mis- 
taken." 

"So it is. Stop, driver, stop!" We were still a 
hundred yards or so from it, but he insisted upon 
our alighting, and we finished our journey upon 
foot. 

Number 3, Lauriston Gardens wore an ill- 
omened and minatory look. It was one of four 
which stood back some little way from the street, 
two being occupied and two empty. The latter 
looked out with three tiers of vacant melancholy 
windows, which were blank and dreary, save that 
here and there a "To Let" card had developed like 
a cataract upon the bleared panes. A small gar- 
den sprinkled over with a scattered eruption of 
sickly plants separated each of these houses from 
the street, and was traversed by a narrow path- 
way, yellowish in colour, and consisting apparently 
of a mixture of clay and of gravel. The whole 
place was very sloppy from the rain which had 
fallen through the night. The garden was bounded 
by a three-foot brick wall with a fringe of wood 
rails upon the top, and against this wall was lean- 
ing a stalwart police constable, surrounded by a 
small knot of loafers, who craned their necks and 
strained their eyes in the vain hope of catching 
some glimpse of the proceedings within. 

I had imagined that Sherlock Holmes would 
at once have hurried into the house and plunged 
into a study of the mystery. Nothing appeared to 
be further from his intention. With an air of non- 
chalance which, under the circumstances, seemed 
to me to border upon affectation, he lounged up 
and down the pavement, and gazed vacantly at the 
ground, the sky, the opposite houses and the line 
of railings. Having finished his scrutiny, he pro- 
ceeded slowly down the path, or rather down the 
fringe of grass which flanked the path, keeping his 
eyes riveted upon the ground. Twice he stopped, 



and once I saw him smile, and heard him utter 
an exclamation of satisfaction. There were many 
marks of footsteps upon the wet clayey soil, but 
since the police had been coming and going over 
it, I was unable to see how my companion could 
hope to learn anything from it. Still I had had such 
extraordinary evidence of the quickness of his per- 
ceptive faculties, that I had no doubt that he could 
see a great deal which was hidden from me. 

At the door of the house we were met by a 
tall, white-faced, flaxen-haired man, with a note- 
book in his hand, who rushed forward and wrung 
my companion's hand with effusion. "It is indeed 
kind of you to come," he said, "I have had every- 
thing left untouched." 

"Except that!" my friend answered, pointing at 
the pathway. "If a herd of buffaloes had passed 
along there could not be a greater mess. No doubt, 
however, you had drawn your own conclusions, 
Gregson, before you permitted this." 

"I have had so much to do inside the house," 
the detective said evasively. "My colleague, Mr. 
Lestrade, is here. I had relied upon him to look 
after this." 

Holmes glanced at me and raised his eyebrows 
sardonically. "With two such men as yourself and 
Lestrade upon the ground, there will not be much 
for a third party to find out," he said. 

Gregson rubbed his hands in a self-satisfied 
way. "I think we have done all that can be done," 
he answered; "it's a queer case though, and I knew 
your taste for such things." 

"You did not come here in a cab?" asked Sher- 
lock Holmes. 

"No, sir." 

"Nor Lestrade?" 

"No, sir." 

"Then let us go and look at the room." With 
which inconsequent remark he strode on into the 
house, followed by Gregson, whose features ex- 
pressed his astonishment. 

A short passage, bare planked and dusty, led 
to the kitchen and offices. Two doors opened out 
of it to the left and to the right. One of these had 
obviously been closed for many weeks. The other 
belonged to the dining-room, which was the apart- 
ment in which the mysterious affair had occurred. 
Holmes walked in, and I followed him with that 
subdued feeling at my heart which the presence of 
death inspires. 

It was a large square room, looking all the 
larger from the absence of all furniture. A vul- 
gar flaring paper adorned the walls, but it was 
blotched in places with mildew, and here and there 



16 



A Study In Scarlet 



great strips had become detached and hung down, 
exposing the yellow plaster beneath. Opposite the 
door was a showy fireplace, surmounted by a man- 
telpiece of imitation white marble. On one corner 
of this was stuck the stump of a red wax candle. 
The solitary window was so dirty that the light 
was hazy and uncertain, giving a dull grey tinge 
to everything, which was intensified by the thick 
layer of dust which coated the whole apartment. 

All these details I observed afterwards. At 
present my attention was centred upon the sin- 
gle grim motionless figure which lay stretched 
upon the boards, with vacant sightless eyes star- 
ing up at the discoloured ceiling. It was that of a 
man about forty-three or forty-four years of age, 
middle-sized, broad shouldered, with crisp curl- 
ing black hair, and a short stubbly beard. He 
was dressed in a heavy broadcloth frock coat and 
waistcoat, with light-coloured trousers, and im- 
maculate collar and cuffs. A top hat, well brushed 
and trim, was placed upon the floor beside him. 
His hands were clenched and his arms thrown 
abroad, while his lower limbs were interlocked 
as though his death struggle had been a grievous 
one. On his rigid face there stood an expression 
of horror, and as it seemed to me, of hatred, such 
as I have never seen upon human features. This 
malignant and terrible contortion, combined with 
the low forehead, blunt nose, and prognathous 
jaw gave the dead man a singularly simious and 
ape-like appearance, which was increased by his 
writhing, unnatural posture. I have seen death in 
many forms, but never has it appeared to me in 
a more fearsome aspect than in that dark grimy 
apartment, which looked out upon one of the main 
arteries of suburban London. 

Lestrade, lean and ferret-like as ever, was 
standing by the doorway, and greeted my compan- 
ion and myself. 

"This case will make a stir, sir," he remarked. 
"It beats anything I have seen, and I am no 
chicken." 

"There is no clue?" said Gregson. 

"None at all," chimed in Lestrade. 

Sherlock Holmes approached the body, and, 
kneeling down, examined it intently. "You are sure 
that there is no wound?" he asked, pointing to nu- 
merous gouts and splashes of blood which lay all 
round. 

"Positive!" cried both detectives. 

"Then, of course, this blood belongs to a sec- 
ond individual — presumably the murderer, if mur- 
der has been committed. It reminds me of the cir- 
cumstances attendant on the death of Van Jansen, 



in Utrecht, in the year '34. Do you remember the 
case, Gregson?" 

"No, sir." 

"Read it up — you really should. There is noth- 
ing new under the sun. It has all been done be- 
fore." 

As he spoke, his nimble fingers were flying 
here, there, and everywhere, feeling, pressing, un- 
buttoning, examining, while his eyes wore the 
same far-away expression which I have already 
remarked upon. So swiftly was the examination 
made, that one would hardly have guessed the 
minuteness with which it was conducted. Finally, 
he sniffed the dead man's lips, and then glanced 
at the soles of his patent leather boots. 

"He has not been moved at all?" he asked. 

"No more than was necessary for the purposes 
of our examination." 

"You can take him to the mortuary now," he 
said. "There is nothing more to be learned." 

Gregson had a stretcher and four men at hand. 
At his call they entered the room, and the stranger 
was lifted and carried out. As they raised him, 
a ring tinkled down and rolled across the floor. 
Lestrade grabbed it up and stared at it with mys- 
tified eyes. 

"There's been a woman here," he cried. "It's a 
woman's wedding-ring." 

He held it out, as he spoke, upon the palm of 
his hand. We all gathered round him and gazed 
at it. There could be no doubt that that circlet of 
plain gold had once adorned the finger of a bride. 

"This complicates matters," said Gregson. 
"Heaven knows, they were complicated enough 
before." 

"You're sure it doesn't simplify them?" ob- 
served Holmes. "There's nothing to be learned by 
staring at it. What did you find in his pockets?" 

"We have it all here," said Gregson, pointing 
to a litter of objects upon one of the bottom steps 
of the stairs. "A gold watch, No. 97163, by Bar- 
raud, of London. Gold Albert chain, very heavy 
and solid. Gold ring, with masonic device. Gold 
pin — bull-dog's head, with rubies as eyes. Russian 
leather card-case, with cards of Enoch J. Drebber 
of Cleveland, corresponding with the E.J. D. upon 
the linen. No purse, but loose money to the extent 
of seven pounds thirteen. Pocket edition of Boccac- 
cio's 'Decameron,' with name of Joseph Stanger- 
son upon the fly-leaf. Two letters — one addressed 
to E. J. Drebber and one to Joseph Stangerson." 

"At what address?" 



37 



A Study In Scarlet 



"American Exchange, Strand — to be left till 
called for. They are both from the Guion 
Steamship Company, and refer to the sailing of 
their boats from Liverpool. It is clear that this un- 
fortunate man was about to return to New York." 

"Have you made any inquiries as to this man, 
Stangerson?" 

"I did it at once, sir," said Gregson. "I have had 
advertisements sent to all the newspapers, and one 
of my men has gone to the American Exchange, 
but he has not returned yet. " 

"Have you sent to Cleveland?" 

"We telegraphed this morning." 

"How did you word your inquiries?" 

"We simply detailed the circumstances, and 
said that we should be glad of any information 
which could help us." 

"You did not ask for particulars on any point 
which appeared to you to be crucial?" 

"I asked about Stangerson." 

"Nothing else? Is there no circumstance on 
which this whole case appears to hinge? Will you 
not telegraph again?" 

"I have said all I have to say," said Gregson, in 
an offended voice. 

Sherlock Holmes chuckled to himself, and ap- 
peared to be about to make some remark, when 
Lestrade, who had been in the front room while 
we were holding this conversation in the hall, reap- 
peared upon the scene, rubbing his hands in a 
pompous and self-satisfied manner. 

"Mr. Gregson," he said, "I have just made a dis- 
covery of the highest importance, and one which 
would have been overlooked had I not made a 
careful examination of the walls." 

The little man's eyes sparkled as he spoke, and 
he was evidently in a state of suppressed exulta- 
tion at having scored a point against his colleague. 

"Come here," he said, bustling back into the 
room, the atmosphere of which felt clearer since 
the removal of its ghastly inmate. "Now, stand 
there!" 

He struck a match on his boot and held it up 
against the wall. 

"Look at that! " he said, triumphantly. 

I have remarked that the paper had fallen away 
in parts. In this particular corner of the room a 
large piece had peeled off, leaving a yellow square 
of coarse plastering. Across this bare space there 
was scrawled in blood-red letters a single word — 

RACHE. 



"What do you think of that?" cried the detective, 
with the air of a showman exhibiting his show. 
"This was overlooked because it was in the darkest 
corner of the room, and no one thought of looking 
there. The murderer has written it with his or her 
own blood. See this smear where it has trickled 
down the wall! That disposes of the idea of sui- 
cide anyhow. Why was that corner chosen to write 
it on? I will tell you. See that candle on the man- 
telpiece. It was lit at the time, and if it was lit this 
corner would be the brightest instead of the dark- 
est portion of the wall." 

"And what does it mean now that you have 
found it?" asked Gregson in a depreciatory voice. 

"Mean? Why, it means that the writer was 
going to put the female name Rachel, but was 
disturbed before he or she had time to finish. 
You mark my words, when this case comes to 
be cleared up you will find that a woman named 
Rachel has something to do with it. It's all very 
well for you to laugh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. You 
may be very smart and clever, but the old hound 
is the best, when all is said and done." 

"I really beg your pardon!" said my compan- 
ion, who had ruffled the little man's temper by 
bursting into an explosion of laughter. "You cer- 
tainly have the credit of being the first of us to 
find this out, and, as you say, it bears every mark 
of having been written by the other participant in 
last night's mystery. I have not had time to exam- 
ine this room yet, but with your permission I shall 
do so now." 

As he spoke, he whipped a tape measure and 
a large round magnifying glass from his pocket. 
With these two implements he trotted noiselessly 
about the room, sometimes stopping, occasionally 
kneeling, and once lying flat upon his face. So 
engrossed was he with his occupation that he ap- 
peared to have forgotten our presence, for he chat- 
tered away to himself under his breath the whole 
time, keeping up a running fire of exclamations, 
groans, whistles, and little cries suggestive of en- 
couragement and of hope. As I watched him I 
was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded well- 
trained foxhound as it dashes backwards and for- 
wards through the covert, whining in its eagerness, 
until it comes across the lost scent. For twenty 
minutes or more he continued his researches, mea- 
suring with the most exact care the distance be- 
tween marks which were entirely invisible to me, 
and occasionally applying his tape to the walls in 
an equally incomprehensible manner. In one place 
he gathered up very carefully a little pile of grey 



18 



A Study In Scarlet 



dust from the floor, and packed it away in an enve- 
lope. Finally, he examined with his glass the word 
upon the wall, going over every letter of it with the 
most minute exactness. This done, he appeared to 
be satisfied, for he replaced his tape and his glass 
in his pocket. 

"They say that genius is an infinite capacity for 
taking pains," he remarked with a smile. "It's a 
very bad definition, but it does apply to detective 
work." 

Gregson and Lestrade had watched the 
manoeuvres of their amateur companion with con- 
siderable curiosity and some contempt. They evi- 
dently failed to appreciate the fact, which I had be- 
gun to realize, that Sherlock Holmes' smallest ac- 
tions were all directed towards some definite and 
practical end. 

"What do you think of it, sir?" they both asked. 

"It would be robbing you of the credit of the 
case if I was to presume to help you," remarked 
my friend. "You are doing so well now that it 
would be a pity for anyone to interfere." There was 
a world of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. "If you 
will let me know how your investigations go," he 
continued, "I shall be happy to give you any help I 
can. In the meantime I should like to speak to the 
constable who found the body. Can you give me 
his name and address?" 



Lestrade glanced at his note-book. "John 
Ranee," he said. "He is off duty now. You will find 
him at 46, Audley Court, Kennington Park Gate." 

Holmes took a note of the address. 

"Come along, Doctor," he said; "we shall go 
and look him up. I'll tell you one thing which may 
help you in the case," he continued, turning to the 
two detectives. "There has been murder done, and 
the murderer was a man. He was more than six 
feet high, was in the prime of life, had small feet 
for his height, wore coarse, square-toed boots and 
smoked a Trichinopoly cigar. He came here with 
his victim in a four-wheeled cab, which was drawn 
by a horse with three old shoes and one new one 
on his off fore leg. In all probability the murderer 
had a florid face, and the finger-nails of his right 
hand were remarkably long. These are only a few 
indications, but they may assist you." 

Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other 
with an incredulous smile. 

"If this man was murdered, how was it done?" 
asked the former. 

"Poison," said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and 
strode off. "One other thing, Lestrade," he added, 
turning round at the door: " 'Rache,' is the Ger- 
man for 'revenge;' so don't lose your time looking 
for Miss Rachel." 

With which Parthian shot he walked away, 
leaving the two rivals open-mouthed behind him. 



CHAPTER IV. 

What John Rance Had To Tell 



It was one o'clock when we left No. 3, Lau- 
riston Gardens. Sherlock Holmes led me to the 
nearest telegraph office, whence he dispatched a 
long telegram. He then hailed a cab, and ordered 
the driver to take us to the address given us by 
Lestrade. 

"There is nothing like first hand evidence," he 
remarked; "as a matter of fact, my mind is entirely 
made up upon the case, but still we may as well 
learn all that is to be learned." 

"You amaze me, Holmes," said I. "Surely you 
are not as sure as you pretend to be of all those 
particulars which you gave." 



"There's no room for a mistake," he answered. 
"The very first thing which I observed on arriving 
there was that a cab had made two ruts with its 
wheels close to the curb. Now, up to last night, we 
have had no rain for a week, so that those wheels 
which left such a deep impression must have been 
there during the night. There were the marks of 
the horse's hoofs, too, the outline of one of which 
was far more clearly cut than that of the other 
three, showing that that was a new shoe. Since 
the cab was there after the rain began, and was 
not there at any time during the morning — I have 
Gregson's word for that — it follows that it must 



39 



A Study In Scarlet 



have been there during the night, and, therefore, 
that it brought those two individuals to the house." 

"That seems simple enough," said I; "but how 
about the other man's height?" 

"Why, the height of a man, in nine cases out 
of ten, can be told from the length of his stride. 
It is a simple calculation enough, though there is 
no use my boring you with figures. I had this fel- 
low's stride both on the clay outside and on the 
dust within. Then I had a way of checking my cal- 
culation. When a man writes on a wall, his instinct 
leads him to write about the level of his own eyes. 
Now that writing was just over six feet from the 
ground. It was child's play" 

"And his age?" I asked. 

"Well, if a man can stride four and a-half feet 
without the smallest effort, he can't be quite in 
the sere and yellow. That was the breadth of a 
puddle on the garden walk which he had evi- 
dently walked across. Patent-leather boots had 
gone round, and Square-toes had hopped over. 
There is no mystery about it at all. I am simply 
applying to ordinary life a few of those precepts 
of observation and deduction which I advocated 
in that article. Is there anything else that puzzles 
you?" 

"The finger nails and the Trichinopoly," I sug- 
gested. 

"The writing on the wall was done with a 
man's forefinger dipped in blood. My glass al- 
lowed me to observe that the plaster was slightly 
scratched in doing it, which would not have been 
the case if the man's nail had been trimmed. I 
gathered up some scattered ash from the floor. It 
was dark in colour and flakey — such an ash as is 
only made by a Trichinopoly. I have made a spe- 
cial study of cigar ashes — in fact, I have written a 
monograph upon the subject. I flatter myself that 
I can distinguish at a glance the ash of any known 
brand, either of cigar or of tobacco. It is just in 
such details that the skilled detective differs from 
the Gregson and Lestrade type." 

"And the florid face?" I asked. 

"Ah, that was a more daring shot, though I 
have no doubt that I was right. You must not ask 
me that at the present state of the affair." 

I passed my hand over my brow. "My head 
is in a whirl," I remarked; "the more one thinks 
of it the more mysterious it grows. How came 
these two men — if there were two men — into an 
empty house? What has become of the cabman 
who drove them? How could one man compel an- 
other to take poison? Where did the blood come 



from? What was the object of the murderer, since 
robbery had no part in it? How came the woman's 
ring there? Above all, why should the second 
man write up the German word RACHE before 
decamping? I confess that I cannot see any possi- 
ble way of reconciling all these facts." 
My companion smiled approvingly. 

"You sum up the difficulties of the situation 
succinctly and well," he said. "There is much that 
is still obscure, though I have quite made up my 
mind on the main facts. As to poor Lestrade's dis- 
covery it was simply a blind intended to put the 
police upon a wrong track, by suggesting Social- 
ism and secret societies. It was not done by a Ger- 
man. The A, if you noticed, was printed somewhat 
after the German fashion. Now, a real German in- 
variably prints in the Latin character, so that we 
may safely say that this was not written by one, but 
by a clumsy imitator who overdid his part. It was 
simply a ruse to divert inquiry into a wrong chan- 
nel. I'm not going to tell you much more of the 
case, Doctor. You know a conjuror gets no credit 
when once he has explained his trick, and if I show 
you too much of my method of working, you will 
come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary 
individual after all." 

"I shall never do that," I answered; "you have 
brought detection as near an exact science as it ever 
will be brought in this world." 

My companion flushed up with pleasure at my 
words, and the earnest way in which I uttered 
them. I had already observed that he was as sen- 
sitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl 
could be of her beauty. 

"I'll tell you one other thing," he said. "Patent- 
leathers and Square-toes came in the same cab, 
and they walked down the pathway together as 
friendly as possible — arm-in-arm, in all probabil- 
ity. When they got inside they walked up and 
down the room — or rather, Patent-leathers stood 
still while Square-toes walked up and down. I 
could read all that in the dust; and I could read 
that as he walked he grew more and more ex- 
cited. That is shown by the increased length of his 
strides. He was talking all the while, and working 
himself up, no doubt, into a fury. Then the tragedy 
occurred. I've told you all I know myself now, for 
the rest is mere surmise and conjecture. We have 
a good working basis, however, on which to start. 
We must hurry up, for I want to go to Halle's con- 
cert to hear Norman Neruda this afternoon." 

This conversation had occurred while our cab 
had been threading its way through a long suc- 
cession of dingy streets and dreary by-ways. In 



20 



A Study In Scarlet 



the dingiest and dreariest of them our driver sud- 
denly came to a stand. "That's Audley Court in 
there," he said, pointing to a narrow slit in the line 
of dead-coloured brick. "You'll find me here when 
you come back." 

Audley Court was not an attractive locality. 
The narrow passage led us into a quadrangle 
paved with flags and lined by sordid dwellings. 
We picked our way among groups of dirty chil- 
dren, and through lines of discoloured linen, until 
we came to Number 46, the door of which was 
decorated with a small slip of brass on which the 
name Ranee was engraved. On enquiry we found 
that the constable was in bed, and we were shown 
into a little front parlour to await his coming. 

He appeared presently, looking a little irritable 
at being disturbed in his slumbers. "I made my 
report at the office," he said. 

Holmes took a half-sovereign from his pocket 
and played with it pensively. "We thought that we 
should like to hear it all from your own lips," he 
said. 

"I shall be most happy to tell you anything I 
can," the constable answered with his eyes upon 
the little golden disk. 

"Just let us hear it all in your own way as it 
occurred." 

Ranee sat down on the horsehair sofa, and knit- 
ted his brows as though determined not to omit 
anything in his narrative. 

"I'll tell it ye from the beginning," he said. 
"My time is from ten at night to six in the morn- 
ing. At eleven there was a fight at the 'White 
Hart'; but bar that all was quiet enough on the 
beat. At one o'clock it began to rain, and I met 
Harry Murcher — him who has the Holland Grove 
beat — and we stood together at the corner of Hen- 
rietta Street a-talkin'. Presently — maybe about two 
or a little after — I thought I would take a look 
round and see that all was right down the Brix- 
ton Road. It was precious dirty and lonely. Not a 
soul did I meet all the way down, though a cab or 
two went past me. I was a strollin' down, thinkin' 
between ourselves how uncommon handy a four 
of gin hot would be, when suddenly the glint of 
a light caught my eye in the window of that same 
house. Now, I knew that them two houses in Lau- 
riston Gardens was empty on account of him that 
owns them who won't have the drains seed to, 
though the very last tenant what lived in one of 
them died o' typhoid fever. I was knocked all in a 
heap therefore at seeing a light in the window, and 
I suspected as something was wrong. When I got 
to the door — " 



"You stopped, and then walked back to the gar- 
den gate," my companion interrupted. "What did 
you do that for?" 

Ranee gave a violent jump, and stared at Sher- 
lock Holmes with the utmost amazement upon his 
features. 

"Why, that's true, sir," he said; "though how 
you come to know it, Heaven only knows. Ye see, 
when I got up to the door it was so still and so 
lonesome, that I thought I'd be none the worse for 
some one with me. I ain't afeared of anything on 
this side o' the grave; but I thought that maybe it 
was him that died o' the typhoid inspecting the 
drains what killed him. The thought gave me a 
kind o' turn, and I walked back to the gate to see 
if I could see Murcher 's lantern, but there wasn't 
no sign of him nor of anyone else." 

"There was no one in the street?" 

"Not a livin' soul, sir, nor as much as a dog. 
Then I pulled myself together and went back and 
pushed the door open. All was quiet inside, 
so I went into the room where the light was a- 
burnin'. There was a candle flickerin' on the man- 
telpiece — a red wax one — and by its light I saw — " 

"Yes, I know all that you saw. You walked 
round the room several times, and you knelt down 
by the body, and then you walked through and 
tried the kitchen door, and then — " 

John Ranee sprang to his feet with a frightened 
face and suspicion in his eyes. "Where was you 
hid to see all that?" he cried. "It seems to me that 
you knows a deal more than you should." 

Holmes laughed and threw his card across the 
table to the constable. "Don't get arresting me for 
the murder," he said. "I am one of the hounds and 
not the wolf; Mr. Gregson or Mr. Lestrade will an- 
swer for that. Go on, though. What did you do 
next?" 

Ranee resumed his seat, without however los- 
ing his mystified expression. "I went back to 
the gate and sounded my whistle. That brought 
Murcher and two more to the spot." 

"Was the street empty then?" 

"Well, it was, as far as anybody that could be 
of any good goes." 

"What do you mean?" 

The constable's features broadened into a grin. 
"I've seen many a drunk chap in my time," he said, 
"but never anyone so cry in' drunk as that cove. He 
was at the gate when I came out, a-leanin' up ag'in 
the railings, and a-singin' at the pitch o' his lungs 
about Columbine's New-fangled Banner, or some 
such stuff. He couldn't stand, far less help." 



21 



A Study In Scarlet 



"What sort of a man was he?" asked Sherlock 
Holmes. 

John Ranee appeared to be somewhat irritated 
at this digression. "He was an uncommon drunk 
sort o' man," he said. "He'd ha' found hisself in 
the station if we hadn't been so took up." 

"His face — his dress — didn't you notice them?" 
Holmes broke in impatiently. 

"I should think I did notice them, seeing that 
I had to prop him up — me and Murcher between 
us. He was a long chap, with a red face, the lower 
part muffled round — " 

"That will do," cried Holmes. "What became 
of him?" 

"We'd enough to do without lookin' after him," 
the policeman said, in an aggrieved voice. "I'll wa- 
ger he found his way home all right. " 

"How was he dressed?" 

"A brown overcoat." 

"Had he a whip in his hand?" 

"A whip — no." 

"He must have left it behind," muttered my 
companion. "You didn't happen to see or hear a 
cab after that?" 

"No." 

"There's a half-sovereign for you," my compan- 
ion said, standing up and taking his hat. "I am 
afraid, Ranee, that you will never rise in the force. 
That head of yours should be for use as well as 
ornament. You might have gained your sergeant's 
stripes last night. The man whom you held in your 



hands is the man who holds the clue of this mys- 
tery, and whom we are seeking. There is no use of 
arguing about it now; I tell you that it is so. Come 
along, Doctor." 

We started off for the cab together, leaving our 
informant incredulous, but obviously uncomfort- 
able. 

"The blundering fool," Holmes said, bitterly, as 
we drove back to our lodgings. "Just to think of his 
having such an incomparable bit of good luck, and 
not taking advantage of it." 

"I am rather in the dark still. It is true that the 
description of this man tallies with your idea of 
the second party in this mystery. But why should 
he come back to the house after leaving it? That is 
not the way of criminals." 

"The ring, man, the ring: that was what he 
came back for. If we have no other way of catching 
him, we can always bait our line with the ring. I 
shall have him, Doctor — I'll lay you two to one that 
I have him. I must thank you for it all. I might 
not have gone but for you, and so have missed 
the finest study I ever came across: a study in 
scarlet, eh? Why shouldn't we use a little art jar- 
gon. There's the scarlet thread of murder running 
through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is 
to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch 
of it. And now for lunch, and then for Norman 
Neruda. Her attack and her bowing are splendid. 
What's that little thing of Chopin's she plays so 
magnificently: Tra-la-la-lira-lira-lay " 

Leaning back in the cab, this amateur blood- 
hound carolled away like a lark while I meditated 
upon the many-sidedness of the human mind. 



CHAPTER V. 

Our Advertisement Brings A Visitor 



Our morning's exertions had been too much 
for my weak health, and I was tired out in the af- 
ternoon. After Holmes' departure for the concert, 
I lay down upon the sofa and endeavoured to get 
a couple of hours' sleep. It was a useless attempt. 
My mind had been too much excited by all that 
had occurred, and the strangest fancies and sur- 
mises crowded into it. Every time that I closed 



my eyes I saw before me the distorted baboon- 
like countenance of the murdered man. So sinister 
was the impression which that face had produced 
upon me that I found it difficult to feel anything 
but gratitude for him who had removed its owner 
from the world. If ever human features bespoke 
vice of the most malignant type, they were cer- 
tainly those of Enoch J. Drebber, of Cleveland. Still 



22 



A Study In Scarlet 



I recognized that justice must be done, and that 
the depravity of the victim was no condonement 
in the eyes of the law. 

The more I thought of it the more extraordinary 
did my companion's hypothesis, that the man had 
been poisoned, appear. I remembered how he had 
sniffed his lips, and had no doubt that he had de- 
tected something which had given rise to the idea. 
Then, again, if not poison, what had caused the 
man's death, since there was neither wound nor 
marks of strangulation? But, on the other hand, 
whose blood was that which lay so thickly upon 
the floor? There were no signs of a struggle, nor 
had the victim any weapon with which he might 
have wounded an antagonist. As long as all these 
questions were unsolved, I felt that sleep would be 
no easy matter, either for Holmes or myself. His 
quiet self-confident manner convinced me that he 
had already formed a theory which explained all 
the facts, though what it was I could not for an 
instant conjecture. 

He was very late in returning — so late, that I 
knew that the concert could not have detained him 
all the time. Dinner was on the table before he ap- 
peared. 

"It was magnificent," he said, as he took his 
seat. "Do you remember what Darwin says about 
music? He claims that the power of producing and 
appreciating it existed among the human race long 
before the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps 
that is why we are so subtly influenced by it. There 
are vague memories in our souls of those misty 
centuries when the world was in its childhood." 

"That's rather a broad idea," I remarked. 

"One's ideas must be as broad as Nature if they 
are to interpret Nature," he answered. "What's the 
matter? You're not looking quite yourself. This 
Brixton Road affair has upset you." 

"To tell the truth, it has," I said. "I ought to be 
more case-hardened after my Afghan experiences. 
I saw my own comrades hacked to pieces at Mai- 
wand without losing my nerve." 

"I can understand. There is a mystery about 
this which stimulates the imagination; where there 
is no imagination there is no horror. Have you seen 
the evening paper?" 

"No." 

"It gives a fairly good account of the affair. It 
does not mention the fact that when the man was 
raised up, a woman's wedding ring fell upon the 
floor. It is just as well it does not." 

"Why?" 



"Look at this advertisement," he answered. "I 
had one sent to every paper this morning immedi- 
ately after the affair." 

He threw the paper across to me and I glanced 
at the place indicated. It was the first announce- 
ment in the "Found" column. "In Brixton Road, 
this morning," it ran, "a plain gold wedding ring, 
found in the roadway between the 'White Hart' 
Tavern and Holland Grove. Apply Dr. Watson, 
221B, Baker Street, between eight and nine this 
evening." 

"Excuse my using your name," he said. "If I 
used my own some of these dunderheads would 
recognize it, and want to meddle in the affair." 

"That is all right," I answered. "But supposing 
anyone applies, I have no ring." 

"Oh yes, you have," said he, handing me one. 
"This will do very well. It is almost a facsimile." 

"And who do you expect will answer this ad- 
vertisement. " 

"Why, the man in the brown coat — our florid 
friend with the square toes. If he does not come 
himself he will send an accomplice." 

"Would he not consider it as too dangerous?" 

"Not at all. If my view of the case is correct, 
and I have every reason to believe that it is, this 
man would rather risk anything than lose the ring. 
According to my notion he dropped it while stoop- 
ing over Drebber's body, and did not miss it at 
the time. After leaving the house he discovered 
his loss and hurried back, but found the police al- 
ready in possession, owing to his own folly in leav- 
ing the candle burning. He had to pretend to be 
drunk in order to allay the suspicions which might 
have been aroused by his appearance at the gate. 
Now put yourself in that man's place. On think- 
ing the matter over, it must have occurred to him 
that it was possible that he had lost the ring in the 
road after leaving the house. What would he do, 
then? He would eagerly look out for the evening 
papers in the hope of seeing it among the arti- 
cles found. His eye, of course, would light upon 
this. He would be overjoyed. Why should he fear 
a trap? There would be no reason in his eyes why 
the finding of the ring should be connected with 
the murder. He would come. He will come. You 
shall see him within an hour." 

"And then?" I asked. 

"Oh, you can leave me to deal with him then. 
Have you any arms?" 

"I have my old service revolver and a few car- 
tridges." 



23 



A Study In Scarlet 



"You had better clean it and load it. He will 
be a desperate man, and though I shall take him 
unawares, it is as well to be ready for anything." 

I went to my bedroom and followed his advice. 
When I returned with the pistol the table had been 
cleared, and Holmes was engaged in his favourite 
occupation of scraping upon his violin. 

"The plot thickens," he said, as I entered; "I 
have just had an answer to my American telegram. 
My view of the case is the correct one." 

"And that is?" I asked eagerly. 

"My fiddle would be the better for new 
strings," he remarked. "Put your pistol in your 
pocket. When the fellow comes speak to him in an 
ordinary way. Leave the rest to me. Don't frighten 
him by looking at him too hard." 

"It is eight o'clock now," I said, glancing at my 
watch. 

"Yes. He will probably be here in a few min- 
utes. Open the door slightly. That will do. Now 
put the key on the inside. Thank you! This is a 
queer old book I picked up at a stall yesterday — De 
fure inter Gentes — published in Latin at Liege in the 
Lowlands, in 1642. Charles' head was still firm on 
his shoulders when this little brown-backed vol- 
ume was struck off." 

"Who is the printer?" 

"Philippe de Croy, whoever he may have been. 
On the fly-leaf, in very faded ink, is written 'Ex 
libris Guliolmi Whyte.' I wonder who William 
Whyte was. Some pragmatical seventeenth cen- 
tury lawyer, I suppose. His writing has a legal 
twist about it. Here comes our man, I think." 

As he spoke there was a sharp ring at the bell. 
Sherlock Holmes rose softly and moved his chair 
in the direction of the door. We heard the servant 
pass along the hall, and the sharp click of the latch 
as she opened it. 

"Does Dr. Watson live here?" asked a clear but 
rather harsh voice. We could not hear the servant's 
reply, but the door closed, and some one began to 
ascend the stairs. The footfall was an uncertain 
and shuffling one. A look of surprise passed over 
the face of my companion as he listened to it. It 
came slowly along the passage, and there was a 
feeble tap at the door. 

"Come in," I cried. 

At my summons, instead of the man of vio- 
lence whom we expected, a very old and wrinkled 
woman hobbled into the apartment. She appeared 
to be dazzled by the sudden blaze of light, and 
after dropping a curtsey, she stood blinking at us 



with her bleared eyes and fumbling in her pocket 
with nervous, shaky fingers. I glanced at my com- 
panion, and his face had assumed such a discon- 
solate expression that it was all I could do to keep 
my countenance. 

The old crone drew out an evening paper, and 
pointed at our advertisement. "It's this as has 
brought me, good gentlemen," she said, dropping 
another curtsey; "a gold wedding ring in the Brix- 
ton Road. It belongs to my girl Sally, as was mar- 
ried only this time twelvemonth, which her hus- 
band is steward aboard a Union boat, and what 
he'd say if he comes 'ome and found her without 
her ring is more than I can think, he being short 
enough at the best o' times, but more especially 
when he has the drink. If it please you, she went 
to the circus last night along with — " 

"Is that her ring?" I asked. 

"The Lord be thanked!" cried the old woman; 
"Sally will be a glad woman this night. That's the 
ring." 

"And what may your address be?" I inquired, 
taking up a pencil. 

"13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch. A weary 
way from here." 

"The Brixton Road does not lie between any 
circus and Houndsditch," said Sherlock Holmes 
sharply. 

The old woman faced round and looked keenly 
at him from her little red-rimmed eyes. "The gen- 
tleman asked me for my address," she said. "Sally 
lives in lodgings at 3, Mayfield Place, Peckham." 

"And your name is — ?" 

"My name is Sawyer — her's is Dennis, which 
Tom Dennis married her — and a smart, clean 
lad, too, as long as he's at sea, and no steward 
in the company more thought of; but when on 
shore, what with the women and what with liquor 
shops — " 

"Here is your ring, Mrs. Sawyer," I interrupted, 
in obedience to a sign from my companion; "it 
clearly belongs to your daughter, and I am glad 
to be able to restore it to the rightful owner." 

With many mumbled blessings and protesta- 
tions of gratitude the old crone packed it away in 
her pocket, and shuffled off down the stairs. Sher- 
lock Holmes sprang to his feet the moment that 
she was gone and rushed into his room. He re- 
turned in a few seconds enveloped in an ulster 
and a cravat. "I'll follow her," he said, hurriedly; 
"she must be an accomplice, and will lead me to 
him. Wait up for me." The hall door had hardly 



24 



A Study In Scarlet 



slammed behind our visitor before Holmes had 
descended the stair. Looking through the window 
I could see her walking feebly along the other side, 
while her pursuer dogged her some little distance 
behind. "Either his whole theory is incorrect," I 
thought to myself, "or else he will be led now to 
the heart of the mystery." There was no need for 
him to ask me to wait up for him, for I felt that 
sleep was impossible until I heard the result of his 
adventure. 

It was close upon nine when he set out. I had 
no idea how long he might be, but I sat stolidly 
puffing at my pipe and skipping over the pages of 
Henri Murger's Vie de Boheme. Ten o'clock passed, 
and I heard the footsteps of the maid as they pat- 
tered off to bed. Eleven, and the more stately tread 
of the landlady passed my door, bound for the 
same destination. It was close upon twelve before I 
heard the sharp sound of his latch-key. The instant 
he entered I saw by his face that he had not been 
successful. Amusement and chagrin seemed to be 
struggling for the mastery, until the former sud- 
denly carried the day, and he burst into a hearty 
laugh. 

"I wouldn't have the Scotland Yarders know it 
for the world," he cried, dropping into his chair; "I 
have chaffed them so much that they would never 
have let me hear the end of it. I can afford to laugh, 
because I know that I will be even with them in the 
long run." 

"What is it then?" I asked. 

"Oh, I don't mind telling a story against my- 
self. That creature had gone a little way when she 
began to limp and show every sign of being foot- 
sore. Presently she came to a halt, and hailed a 
four-wheeler which was passing. I managed to 
be close to her so as to hear the address, but I 
need not have been so anxious, for she sang it out 
loud enough to be heard at the other side of the 
street, 'Drive to 13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch,' 



she cried. This begins to look genuine, I thought, 
and having seen her safely inside, I perched myself 
behind. That's an art which every detective should 
be an expert at. Well, away we rattled, and never 
drew rein until we reached the street in question. 
I hopped off before we came to the door, and 
strolled down the street in an easy, lounging way. I 
saw the cab pull up. The driver jumped down, and 
I saw him open the door and stand expectantly. 
Nothing came out though. When I reached him 
he was groping about frantically in the empty cab, 
and giving vent to the finest assorted collection of 
oaths that ever I listened to. There was no sign or 
trace of his passenger, and I fear it will be some 
time before he gets his fare. On inquiring at Num- 
ber 13 we found that the house belonged to a re- 
spectable paperhanger, named Keswick, and that 
no one of the name either of Sawyer or Dennis had 
ever been heard of there." 

"You don't mean to say," I cried, in amazement, 
"that that tottering, feeble old woman was able to 
get out of the cab while it was in motion, without 
either you or the driver seeing her?" 

"Old woman be damned!" said Sherlock 
Holmes, sharply. "We were the old women to be 
so taken in. It must have been a young man, and 
an active one, too, besides being an incomparable 
actor. The get-up was inimitable. He saw that he 
was followed, no doubt, and used this means of 
giving me the slip. It shows that the man we are 
after is not as lonely as I imagined he was, but has 
friends who are ready to risk something for him. 
Now, Doctor, you are looking done-up. Take my 
advice and turn in." 

I was certainly feeling very weary, so I obeyed 
his injunction. I left Holmes seated in front of the 
smouldering fire, and long into the watches of the 
night I heard the low, melancholy wailings of his 
violin, and knew that he was still pondering over 
the strange problem which he had set himself to 
unravel. 



25 



A Study In Scarlet 



CHAPTER VI. 

Tobias Gregson Shows What He Can Do 



The papers next day were full of the "Brixton 
Mystery," as they termed it. Each had a long ac- 
count of the affair, and some had leaders upon 
it in addition. There was some information in 
them which was new to me. I still retain in my 
scrap-book numerous clippings and extracts bear- 
ing upon the case. Here is a condensation of a few 
of them: — 

The Daily Telegraph remarked that in the history 
of crime there had seldom been a tragedy which 
presented stranger features. The German name of 
the victim, the absence of all other motive, and the 
sinister inscription on the wall, all pointed to its 
perpetration by political refugees and revolution- 
ists. The Socialists had many branches in America, 
and the deceased had, no doubt, infringed their 
unwritten laws, and been tracked down by them. 
After alluding airily to the Vehmgericht, aqua to- 
fana, Carbonari, the Marchioness de Brinvilliers, 
the Darwinian theory, the principles of Malthus, 
and the Ratcliff Highway murders, the article con- 
cluded by admonishing the Government and ad- 
vocating a closer watch over foreigners in England. 

The Standard commented upon the fact that 
lawless outrages of the sort usually occurred un- 
der a Liberal Administration. They arose from the 
unsettling of the minds of the masses, and the con- 
sequent weakening of all authority. The deceased 
was an American gentleman who had been resid- 
ing for some weeks in the Metropolis. He had 
stayed at the boarding-house of Madame Charp- 
entier, in Torquay Terrace, Camberwell. He was 
accompanied in his travels by his private secre- 
tary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson. The two bade adieu to 
their landlady upon Tuesday, the 4th inst., and de- 
parted to Euston Station with the avowed intention 
of catching the Liverpool express. They were after- 
wards seen together upon the platform. Nothing 
more is known of them until Mr. Drebber's body 
was, as recorded, discovered in an empty house in 
the Brixton Road, many miles from Euston. How 
he came there, or how he met his fate, are ques- 
tions which are still involved in mystery. Nothing 
is known of the whereabouts of Stangerson. We 
are glad to learn that Mr. Lestrade and Mr. Greg- 
son, of Scotland Yard, are both engaged upon the 
case, and it is confidently anticipated that these 
well-known officers will speedily throw light upon 
the matter. 

The Daily News observed that there was no 
doubt as to the crime being a political one. The 



despotism and hatred of Liberalism which ani- 
mated the Continental Governments had had the 
effect of driving to our shores a number of men 
who might have made excellent citizens were they 
not soured by the recollection of all that they had 
undergone. Among these men there was a strin- 
gent code of honour, any infringement of which 
was punished by death. Every effort should be 
made to find the secretary, Stangerson, and to as- 
certain some particulars of the habits of the de- 
ceased. A great step had been gained by the dis- 
covery of the address of the house at which he had 
boarded — a result which was entirely due to the 
acuteness and energy of Mr. Gregson of Scotland 
Yard. 

Sherlock Holmes and I read these notices over 
together at breakfast, and they appeared to afford 
him considerable amusement. 

"I told you that, whatever happened, Lestrade 
and Gregson would be sure to score." 

"That depends on how it turns out." 

"Oh, bless you, it doesn't matter in the least. If 
the man is caught, it will be on account of their ex- 
ertions; if he escapes, it will be in spite of their exer- 
tions. It's heads I win and tails you lose. Whatever 
they do, they will have followers. 'Un sot trouve 
toujours un plus sot qui Y admire.' " 

"What on earth is this?" I cried, for at this mo- 
ment there came the pattering of many steps in the 
hall and on the stairs, accompanied by audible ex- 
pressions of disgust upon the part of our landlady. 

"It's the Baker Street division of the detective 
police force," said my companion, gravely; and as 
he spoke there rushed into the room half a dozen 
of the dirtiest and most ragged street Arabs that 
ever I clapped eyes on. 

'"Tention!" cried Holmes, in a sharp tone, and 
the six dirty little scoundrels stood in a line like so 
many disreputable statuettes. "In future you shall 
send up Wiggins alone to report, and the rest of 
you must wait in the street. Have you found it, 
Wiggins?" 

"No, sir, we hain't," said one of the youths. 

"I hardly expected you would. You must keep 
on until you do. Here are your wages." He handed 
each of them a shilling. "Now, off you go, and 
come back with a better report next time." 

He waved his hand, and they scampered away 
downstairs like so many rats, and we heard their 
shrill voices next moment in the street. 



26 



A Study In Scarlet 



"There's more work to be got out of one of 
those little beggars than out of a dozen of the 
force," Holmes remarked. "The mere sight of 
an official-looking person seals men's lips. These 
youngsters, however, go everywhere and hear ev- 
erything. They are as sharp as needles, too; all 
they want is organisation." 

"Is it on this Brixton case that you are employ- 
ing them?" I asked. 

"Yes; there is a point which I wish to ascertain. 
It is merely a matter of time. Hullo! we are going 
to hear some news now with a vengeance! Here 
is Gregson coming down the road with beatitude 
written upon every feature of his face. Bound for 
us, I know. Yes, he is stopping. There he is!" 

There was a violent peal at the bell, and in a 
few seconds the fair-haired detective came up the 
stairs, three steps at a time, and burst into our 
sitting-room. 

"My dear fellow," he cried, wringing Holmes' 
unresponsive hand, "congratulate me! I have 
made the whole thing as clear as day." 

A shade of anxiety seemed to me to cross my 
companion's expressive face. 

"Do you mean that you are on the right track?" 
he asked. 

"The right track! Why, sir, we have the man 
under lock and key." 

"And his name is?" 

"Arthur Charpentier, sub-lieutenant in Her 
Majesty's navy," cried Gregson, pompously, rub- 
bing his fat hands and inflating his chest. 

Sherlock Holmes gave a sigh of relief, and re- 
laxed into a smile. 

"Take a seat, and try one of these cigars," he 
said. "We are anxious to know how you managed 
it. Will you have some whiskey and water?" 

"I don't mind if I do," the detective answered. 
"The tremendous exertions which I have gone 
through during the last day or two have worn me 
out. Not so much bodily exertion, you understand, 
as the strain upon the mind. You will appreciate 
that, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, for we are both brain- 
workers." 

"You do me too much honour," said Holmes, 
gravely. "Let us hear how you arrived at this most 
gratifying result." 

The detective seated himself in the arm-chair, 
and puffed complacently at his cigar. Then sud- 
denly he slapped his thigh in a paroxysm of 
amusement. 



"The fun of it is," he cried, "that that fool 
Lestrade, who thinks himself so smart, has gone 
off upon the wrong track altogether. He is after 
the secretary Stangerson, who had no more to do 
with the crime than the babe unborn. I have no 
doubt that he has caught him by this time." 

The idea tickled Gregson so much that he 
laughed until he choked. 

"And how did you get your clue?" 

"Ah, I'll tell you all about it. Of course, Doctor 
Watson, this is strictly between ourselves. The first 
difficulty which we had to contend with was the 
finding of this American's antecedents. Some peo- 
ple would have waited until their advertisements 
were answered, or until parties came forward and 
volunteered information. That is not Tobias Greg- 
son's way of going to work. You remember the hat 
beside the dead man?" 

"Yes," said Holmes; "by John Underwood and 
Sons, 129, Camberwell Road." 

Gregson looked quite crest-fallen. 

"I had no idea that you noticed that," he said. 
"Have you been there?" 

"No." 

"Ha!" cried Gregson, in a relieved voice; "you 
should never neglect a chance, however small it 
may seem." 

"To a great mind, nothing is little," remarked 
Holmes, sententiously. 

"Well, I went to Underwood, and asked him 
if he had sold a hat of that size and description. 
He looked over his books, and came on it at once. 
He had sent the hat to a Mr. Drebber, residing 
at Charpentier 's Boarding Establishment, Torquay 
Terrace. Thus I got at his address." 

"Smart — very smart!" murmured Sherlock 
Holmes. 

"I next called upon Madame Charpentier," con- 
tinued the detective. "I found her very pale and 
distressed. Her daughter was in the room, too — an 
uncommonly fine girl she is, too; she was look- 
ing red about the eyes and her lips trembled as 
I spoke to her. That didn't escape my notice. I 
began to smell a rat. You know the feeling, Mr. 
Sherlock Holmes, when you come upon the right 
scent — a kind of thrill in your nerves. 'Have you 
heard of the mysterious death of your late boarder 
Mr. Enoch J. Drebber, of Cleveland?' I asked. 

"The mother nodded. She didn't seem able to 
get out a word. The daughter burst into tears. I felt 
more than ever that these people knew something 
of the matter. 

" 'At what o'clock did Mr. Drebber leave your 
house for the train?' I asked. 



27 



A Study In Scarlet 



" 'At eight o'clock/ she said, gulping in her 
throat to keep down her agitation. 'His secre- 
tary, Mr. Stangerson, said that there were two 
trains — one at 9.15 and one at 11. He was to catch 
the first.' 

" 'And was that the last which you saw of him?' 

"A terrible change came over the woman's face 
as I asked the question. Her features turned per- 
fectly livid. It was some seconds before she could 
get out the single word 'Yes' — and when it did 
come it was in a husky unnatural tone. 

"There was silence for a moment, and then the 
daughter spoke in a calm clear voice. 

" 'No good can ever come of falsehood, 
mother,' she said. 'Let us be frank with this gen- 
tleman. We did see Mr. Drebber again.' 

"'God forgive you!' cried Madame Charpen- 
tier, throwing up her hands and sinking back in 
her chair. 'You have murdered your brother.' 

" 'Arthur would rather that we spoke the truth,' 
the girl answered firmly. 

" 'You had best tell me all about it now,' I said. 
'Half-confidences are worse than none. Besides, 
you do not know how much we know of it.' 

" 'On your head be it, Alice!' cried her mother; 
and then, turning to me, 'I will tell you all, sir. Do 
not imagine that my agitation on behalf of my son 
arises from any fear lest he should have had a hand 
in this terrible affair. He is utterly innocent of it. 
My dread is, however, that in your eyes and in the 
eyes of others he may appear to be compromised. 
That however is surely impossible. His high char- 
acter, his profession, his antecedents would all for- 
bid it.' 

" 'Your best way is to make a clean breast of the 
facts,' I answered. 'Depend upon it, if your son is 
innocent he will be none the worse.' 

"'Perhaps, Alice, you had better leave us to- 
gether,' she said, and her daughter withdrew. 
'Now, sir,' she continued, T had no intention of 
telling you all this, but since my poor daughter has 
disclosed it I have no alternative. Having once de- 
cided to speak, I will tell you all without omitting 
any particular.' 

" 'It is your wisest course,' said I. 

" 'Mr. Drebber has been with us nearly three 
weeks. He and his secretary, Mr. Stangerson, 
had been travelling on the Continent. I noticed 
a "Copenhagen" label upon each of their trunks, 
showing that that had been their last stopping 
place. Stangerson was a quiet reserved man, but 



his employer, I am sorry to say, was far other- 
wise. He was coarse in his habits and brutish in 
his ways. The very night of his arrival he became 
very much the worse for drink, and, indeed, af- 
ter twelve o'clock in the day he could hardly ever 
be said to be sober. His manners towards the 
maid-servants were disgustingly free and familiar. 
Worst of all, he speedily assumed the same atti- 
tude towards my daughter, Alice, and spoke to her 
more than once in a way which, fortunately, she 
is too innocent to understand. On one occasion 
he actually seized her in his arms and embraced 
her — an outrage which caused his own secretary 
to reproach him for his unmanly conduct.' 

" 'But why did you stand all this,' I asked. T 
suppose that you can get rid of your boarders 
when you wish.' 

"Mrs. Charpentier blushed at my pertinent 
question. 'Would to God that I had given him no- 
tice on the very day that he came,' she said. 'But it 
was a sore temptation. They were paying a pound 
a day each — fourteen pounds a week, and this is 
the slack season. I am a widow, and my boy in 
the Navy has cost me much. I grudged to lose 
the money. I acted for the best. This last was too 
much, however, and I gave him notice to leave on 
account of it. That was the reason of his going.' 

" 'Well?' 

" 'My heart grew light when I saw him drive 
away. My son is on leave just now, but I did not tell 
him anything of all this, for his temper is violent, 
and he is passionately fond of his sister. When 
I closed the door behind them a load seemed to 
be lifted from my mind. Alas, in less than an 
hour there was a ring at the bell, and I learned 
that Mr. Drebber had returned. He was much ex- 
cited, and evidently the worse for drink. He forced 
his way into the room, where I was sitting with 
my daughter, and made some incoherent remark 
about having missed his train. He then turned to 
Alice, and before my very face, proposed to her 
that she should fly with him. "You are of age," 
he said, "and there is no law to stop you. I have 
money enough and to spare. Never mind the old 
girl here, but come along with me now straight 
away. You shall live like a princess." Poor Alice 
was so frightened that she shrunk away from him, 
but he caught her by the wrist and endeavoured 
to draw her towards the door. I screamed, and at 
that moment my son Arthur came into the room. 
What happened then I do not know. I heard oaths 
and the confused sounds of a scuffle. I was too 
terrified to raise my head. When I did look up 
I saw Arthur standing in the doorway laughing, 



28 



A Study In Scarlet 



with a stick in his hand. "I don't think that fine 
fellow will trouble us again," he said. "I will just 
go after him and see what he does with himself." 
With those words he took his hat and started off 
down the street. The next morning we heard of 
Mr. Drebber's mysterious death.' 

"This statement came from Mrs. Charpentier's 
lips with many gasps and pauses. At times she 
spoke so low that I could hardly catch the words. I 
made shorthand notes of all that she said, however, 
so that there should be no possibility of a mistake." 

"It's quite exciting," said Sherlock Holmes, 
with a yawn. "What happened next?" 

"When Mrs. Charpentier paused," the detec- 
tive continued, "I saw that the whole case hung 
upon one point. Fixing her with my eye in a 
way which I always found effective with women, I 
asked her at what hour her son returned. 

" T do not know,' she answered. 

" 'Not know?' 

" 'No; he has a latch-key, and he let himself in.' 

" 'After you went to bed?' 

" 'Yes.' 

" 'When did you go to bed?' 

" 'About eleven.' 

" 'So your son was gone at least two hours?' 

" 'Yes.' 

" 'Possibly four or five?' 

" 'Yes.' 

" 'What was he doing during that time?' 

" T do not know,' she answered, turning white 
to her very lips. 

"Of course after that there was nothing more to 
be done. I found out where Lieutenant Charpen- 
tier was, took two officers with me, and arrested 
him. When I touched him on the shoulder and 
warned him to come quietly with us, he answered 
us as bold as brass, T suppose you are arresting me 
for being concerned in the death of that scoundrel 
Drebber,' he said. We had said nothing to him 
about it, so that his alluding to it had a most sus- 
picious aspect." 

"Very," said Holmes. 

"He still carried the heavy stick which the 
mother described him as having with him when 
he followed Drebber. It was a stout oak cudgel." 



"What is your theory, then?" 

"Well, my theory is that he followed Drebber as 
far as the Brixton Road. When there, a fresh alter- 
cation arose between them, in the course of which 
Drebber received a blow from the stick, in the pit 
of the stomach, perhaps, which killed him without 
leaving any mark. The night was so wet that no 
one was about, so Charpentier dragged the body 
of his victim into the empty house. As to the can- 
dle, and the blood, and the writing on the wall, 
and the ring, they may all be so many tricks to 
throw the police on to the wrong scent." 

"Well done!" said Holmes in an encouraging 
voice. "Really, Gregson, you are getting along. We 
shall make something of you yet." 

"I flatter myself that I have managed it rather 
neatly," the detective answered proudly. "The 
young man volunteered a statement, in which he 
said that after following Drebber some time, the 
latter perceived him, and took a cab in order to get 
away from him. On his way home he met an old 
shipmate, and took a long walk with him. On be- 
ing asked where this old shipmate lived, he was 
unable to give any satisfactory reply. I think the 
whole case fits together uncommonly well. What 
amuses me is to think of Lestrade, who had started 
off upon the wrong scent. I am afraid he won't 
make much of — Why, by Jove, here's the very man 
himself!" 

It was indeed Lestrade, who had ascended the 
stairs while we were talking, and who now entered 
the room. The assurance and jauntiness which 
generally marked his demeanour and dress were, 
however, wanting. His face was disturbed and 
troubled, while his clothes were disarranged and 
untidy. He had evidently come with the inten- 
tion of consulting with Sherlock Holmes, for on 
perceiving his colleague he appeared to be embar- 
rassed and put out. He stood in the centre of the 
room, fumbling nervously with his hat and uncer- 
tain what to do. "This is a most extraordinary 
case," he said at last — "a most incomprehensible 
affair." 

"Ah, you find it so, Mr. Lestrade!" cried Greg- 
son, triumphantly. "I thought you would come to 
that conclusion. Have you managed to find the 
Secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson?" 

"The Secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson," said 
Lestrade gravely, "was murdered at Halliday's Pri- 
vate Hotel about six o'clock this morning." 



29 



A Study In Scarlet 



CHAPTER VII. 

Light In The Darkness 



The intelligence with which Lestrade greeted 
us was so momentous and so unexpected, that 
we were all three fairly dumfoundered. Gregson 
sprang out of his chair and upset the remainder of 
his whiskey and water. I stared in silence at Sher- 
lock Holmes, whose lips were compressed and his 
brows drawn down over his eyes. 

"Stangerson too!" he muttered. "The plot 
thickens." 

"It was quite thick enough before," grumbled 
Lestrade, taking a chair. "I seem to have dropped 
into a sort of council of war. " 

"Are you — are you sure of this piece of intelli- 
gence?" stammered Gregson. 

"I have just come from his room," said 
Lestrade. "I was the first to discover what had 
occurred." 

"We have been hearing Gregson's view of the 
matter," Holmes observed. "Would you mind let- 
ting us know what you have seen and done?" 

"I have no objection," Lestrade answered, seat- 
ing himself. "I freely confess that I was of the opin- 
ion that Stangerson was concerned in the death of 
Drebber. This fresh development has shown me 
that I was completely mistaken. Full of the one 
idea, I set myself to find out what had become of 
the Secretary. They had been seen together at Eu- 
ston Station about half -past eight on the evening of 
the third. At two in the morning Drebber had been 
found in the Brixton Road. The question which 
confronted me was to find out how Stangerson had 
been employed between 8.30 and the time of the 
crime, and what had become of him afterwards. 
I telegraphed to Liverpool, giving a description 
of the man, and warning them to keep a watch 
upon the American boats. I then set to work call- 
ing upon all the hotels and lodging-houses in the 
vicinity of Euston. You see, I argued that if Dreb- 
ber and his companion had become separated, the 
natural course for the latter would be to put up 
somewhere in the vicinity for the night, and then 
to hang about the station again next morning." 

"They would be likely to agree on some 
meeting-place beforehand," remarked Holmes. 

"So it proved. I spent the whole of yester- 
day evening in making enquiries entirely without 
avail. This morning I began very early, and at eight 
o'clock I reached Halliday's Private Hotel, in Little 
George Street. On my enquiry as to whether a Mr. 



Stangerson was living there, they at once answered 
me in the affirmative. 

" 'No doubt you are the gentleman whom he 
was expecting,' they said. 'He has been waiting 
for a gentleman for two days.' 

" 'Where is he now?' I asked. 

" 'He is upstairs in bed. He wished to be called 
at nine.' 

" T will go up and see him at once,' I said. 

"It seemed to me that my sudden appearance 
might shake his nerves and lead him to say some- 
thing unguarded. The Boots volunteered to show 
me the room: it was on the second floor, and there 
was a small corridor leading up to it. The Boots 
pointed out the door to me, and was about to go 
downstairs again when I saw something that made 
me feel sickish, in spite of my twenty years' experi- 
ence. From under the door there curled a little red 
ribbon of blood, which had meandered across the 
passage and formed a little pool along the skirt- 
ing at the other side. I gave a cry, which brought 
the Boots back. He nearly fainted when he saw it. 
The door was locked on the inside, but we put our 
shoulders to it, and knocked it in. The window 
of the room was open, and beside the window, all 
huddled up, lay the body of a man in his night- 
dress. He was quite dead, and had been for some 
time, for his limbs were rigid and cold. When we 
turned him over, the Boots recognized him at once 
as being the same gentleman who had engaged the 
room under the name of Joseph Stangerson. The 
cause of death was a deep stab in the left side, 
which must have penetrated the heart. And now 
comes the strangest part of the affair. What do you 
suppose was above the murdered man?" 

I felt a creeping of the flesh, and a presentiment 
of coming horror, even before Sherlock Holmes an- 
swered. 

"The word RACHE, written in letters of blood," 
he said. 

"That was it," said Lestrade, in an awe-struck 
voice; and we were all silent for a while. 

There was something so methodical and so in- 
comprehensible about the deeds of this unknown 
assassin, that it imparted a fresh ghastliness to his 
crimes. My nerves, which were steady enough on 
the field of battle tingled as I thought of it. 

"The man was seen," continued Lestrade. "A 
milk boy, passing on his way to the dairy, hap- 
pened to walk down the lane which leads from 



30 



A Study In Scarlet 



the mews at the back of the hotel. He noticed 
that a ladder, which usually lay there, was raised 
against one of the windows of the second floor, 
which was wide open. After passing, he looked 
back and saw a man descend the ladder. He came 
down so quietly and openly that the boy imagined 
him to be some carpenter or joiner at work in the 
hotel. He took no particular notice of him, beyond 
thinking in his own mind that it was early for him 
to be at work. He has an impression that the man 
was tall, had a reddish face, and was dressed in 
a long, brownish coat. He must have stayed in 
the room some little time after the murder, for we 
found blood-stained water in the basin, where he 
had washed his hands, and marks on the sheets 
where he had deliberately wiped his knife." 

I glanced at Holmes on hearing the description 
of the murderer, which tallied so exactly with his 
own. There was, however, no trace of exultation or 
satisfaction upon his face. 

"Did you find nothing in the room which could 
furnish a clue to the murderer?" he asked. 

"Nothing. Stangerson had Drebber's purse in 
his pocket, but it seems that this was usual, as he 
did all the paying. There was eighty odd pounds 
in it, but nothing had been taken. Whatever the 
motives of these extraordinary crimes, robbery is 
certainly not one of them. There were no papers 
or memoranda in the murdered man's pocket, ex- 
cept a single telegram, dated from Cleveland about 
a month ago, and containing the words, 'J. H. is 
in Europe.' There was no name appended to this 
message." 

"And there was nothing else?" Holmes asked. 

"Nothing of any importance. The man's novel, 
with which he had read himself to sleep was lying 
upon the bed, and his pipe was on a chair beside 
him. There was a glass of water on the table, and 
on the window-sill a small chip ointment box con- 
taining a couple of pills." 

Sherlock Holmes sprang from his chair with an 
exclamation of delight. 

"The last link," he cried, exultantly. "My case 
is complete." 

The two detectives stared at him in amazement. 

"I have now in my hands," my companion said, 
confidently, "all the threads which have formed 
such a tangle. There are, of course, details to be 
filled in, but I am as certain of all the main facts, 
from the time that Drebber parted from Stanger- 
son at the station, up to the discovery of the body 
of the latter, as if I had seen them with my own 



eyes. I will give you a proof of my knowledge. 
Could you lay your hand upon those pills?" 

"I have them," said Lestrade, producing a small 
white box; "I took them and the purse and the 
telegram, intending to have them put in a place 
of safety at the Police Station. It was the merest 
chance my taking these pills, for I am bound to 
say that I do not attach any importance to them." 

"Give them here," said Holmes. "Now, Doc- 
tor," turning to me, "are those ordinary pills?" 

They certainly were not. They were of a pearly 
grey colour, small, round, and almost transparent 
against the light. "From their lightness and trans- 
parency, I should imagine that they are soluble in 
water," I remarked. 

"Precisely so," answered Holmes. "Now would 
you mind going down and fetching that poor little 
devil of a terrier which has been bad so long, and 
which the landlady wanted you to put out of its 
pain yesterday." 

I went downstairs and carried the dog upstair 
in my arms. It's laboured breathing and glazing 
eye showed that it was not far from its end. In- 
deed, its snow-white muzzle proclaimed that it 
had already exceeded the usual term of canine ex- 
istence. I placed it upon a cushion on the rug. 

"I will now cut one of these pills in two," said 
Holmes, and drawing his penknife he suited the 
action to the word. "One half we return into the 
box for future purposes. The other half I will place 
in this wine glass, in which is a teaspoonful of wa- 
ter. You perceive that our friend, the Doctor, is 
right, and that it readily dissolves." 

"This may be very interesting," said Lestrade, 
in the injured tone of one who suspects that he is 
being laughed at, "I cannot see, however, what it 
has to do with the death of Mr. Joseph Stanger- 
son." 

"Patience, my friend, patience! You will find 
in time that it has everything to do with it. I shall 
now add a little milk to make the mixture palat- 
able, and on presenting it to the dog we find that 
he laps it up readily enough." 

As he spoke he turned the contents of the 
wine glass into a saucer and placed it in front of 
the terrier, who speedily licked it dry. Sherlock 
Holmes' earnest demeanour had so far convinced 
us that we all sat in silence, watching the ani- 
mal intently, and expecting some startling effect. 
None such appeared, however. The dog contin- 
ued to lie stretched upon the cushion, breathing in 
a laboured way, but apparently neither the better 
nor the worse for its draught. 



3i 



A Study In Scarlet 



Holmes had taken out his watch, and as minute 
followed minute without result, an expression of 
the utmost chagrin and disappointment appeared 
upon his features. He gnawed his lip, drummed 
his fingers upon the table, and showed every other 
symptom of acute impatience. So great was his 
emotion, that I felt sincerely sorry for him, while 
the two detectives smiled derisively, by no means 
displeased at this check which he had met. 

"It can't be a coincidence," he cried, at last 
springing from his chair and pacing wildly up and 
down the room; "it is impossible that it should be 
a mere coincidence. The very pills which I sus- 
pected in the case of Drebber are actually found 
after the death of Stangerson. And yet they are 
inert. What can it mean? Surely my whole chain 
of reasoning cannot have been false. It is impossi- 
ble! And yet this wretched dog is none the worse. 
Ah, I have it! I have it!" With a perfect shriek of de- 
light he rushed to the box, cut the other pill in two, 
dissolved it, added milk, and presented it to the 
terrier. The unfortunate creature's tongue seemed 
hardly to have been moistened in it before it gave 
a convulsive shiver in every limb, and lay as rigid 
and lifeless as if it had been struck by lightning. 

Sherlock Holmes drew a long breath, and 
wiped the perspiration from his forehead. "I 
should have more faith," he said; "I ought to know 
by this time that when a fact appears to be op- 
posed to a long train of deductions, it invariably 
proves to be capable of bearing some other inter- 
pretation. Of the two pills in that box one was of 
the most deadly poison, and the other was entirely 
harmless. I ought to have known that before ever 
I saw the box at all." 

This last statement appeared to me to be so 
startling, that I could hardly believe that he was 
in his sober senses. There was the dead dog, how- 
ever, to prove that his conjecture had been correct. 
It seemed to me that the mists in my own mind 
were gradually clearing away, and I began to have 
a dim, vague perception of the truth. 

"All this seems strange to you," continued 
Holmes, "because you failed at the beginning of 
the inquiry to grasp the importance of the single 
real clue which was presented to you. I had the 
good fortune to seize upon that, and everything 
which has occurred since then has served to con- 
firm my original supposition, and, indeed, was the 
logical sequence of it. Hence things which have 
perplexed you and made the case more obscure, 
have served to enlighten me and to strengthen 
my conclusions. It is a mistake to confound 



strangeness with mystery. The most common- 
place crime is often the most mysterious because 
it presents no new or special features from which 
deductions may be drawn. This murder would 
have been infinitely more difficult to unravel had 
the body of the victim been simply found lying in 
the roadway without any of those outre and sensa- 
tional accompaniments which have rendered it re- 
markable. These strange details, far from making 
the case more difficult, have really had the effect 
of making it less so." 

Mr. Gregson, who had listened to this address 
with considerable impatience, could contain him- 
self no longer. "Look here, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," 
he said, "we are all ready to acknowledge that you 
are a smart man, and that you have your own 
methods of working. We want something more 
than mere theory and preaching now, though. It 
is a case of taking the man. I have made my case 
out, and it seems I was wrong. Young Charpentier 
could not have been engaged in this second affair. 
Lestrade went after his man, Stangerson, and it ap- 
pears that he was wrong too. You have thrown 
out hints here, and hints there, and seem to know 
more than we do, but the time has come when we 
feel that we have a right to ask you straight how 
much you do know of the business. Can you name 
the man who did it?" 

"I cannot help feeling that Gregson is right, 
sir," remarked Lestrade. "We have both tried, and 
we have both failed. You have remarked more than 
once since I have been in the room that you had all 
the evidence which you require. Surely you will 
not withhold it any longer." 

"Any delay in arresting the assassin," I ob- 
served, "might give him time to perpetrate some 
fresh atrocity." 

Thus pressed by us all, Holmes showed signs of 
irresolution. He continued to walk up and down 
the room with his head sunk on his chest and his 
brows drawn down, as was his habit when lost in 
thought. 

"There will be no more murders," he said at 
last, stopping abruptly and facing us. "You can 
put that consideration out of the question. You 
have asked me if I know the name of the assas- 
sin. I do. The mere knowing of his name is a small 
thing, however, compared with the power of laying 
our hands upon him. This I expect very shortly to 
do. I have good hopes of managing it through my 
own arrangements; but it is a thing which needs 
delicate handling, for we have a shrewd and des- 
perate man to deal with, who is supported, as I 
have had occasion to prove, by another who is as 



32 



A Study In Scarlet 



clever as himself. As long as this man has no idea 
that anyone can have a clue there is some chance 
of securing him; but if he had the slightest suspi- 
cion, he would change his name, and vanish in an 
instant among the four million inhabitants of this 
great city. Without meaning to hurt either of your 
feelings, I am bound to say that I consider these 
men to be more than a match for the official force, 
and that is why I have not asked your assistance. 
If I fail I shall, of course, incur all the blame due 
to this omission; but that I am prepared for. At 
present I am ready to promise that the instant that 
I can communicate with you without endangering 
my own combinations, I shall do so." 

Gregson and Lestrade seemed to be far from 
satisfied by this assurance, or by the depreciating 
allusion to the detective police. The former had 
flushed up to the roots of his flaxen hair, while the 
other 's beady eyes glistened with curiosity and re- 
sentment. Neither of them had time to speak, how- 
ever, before there was a tap at the door, and the 
spokesman of the street Arabs, young Wiggins, in- 
troduced his insignificant and unsavoury person. 

"Please, sir," he said, touching his forelock, "I 
have the cab downstairs." 

"Good boy," said Holmes, blandly. "Why don't 
you introduce this pattern at Scotland Yard?" he 
continued, taking a pair of steel handcuffs from 
a drawer. "See how beautifully the spring works. 
They fasten in an instant." 

"The old pattern is good enough," remarked 
Lestrade, "if we can only find the man to put them 
on." 

"Very good, very good," said Holmes, smiling. 
"The cabman may as well help me with my boxes. 
Just ask him to step up, Wiggins." 

I was surprised to find my companion speak- 
ing as though he were about to set out on a jour- 
ney, since he had not said anything to me about 
it. There was a small portmanteau in the room, 
and this he pulled out and began to strap. He was 
busily engaged at it when the cabman entered the 
room. 

"Just give me a help with this buckle, cabman," 
he said, kneeling over his task, and never turning 
his head. 



The fellow came forward with a somewhat 
sullen, defiant air, and put down his hands to as- 
sist. At that instant there was a sharp click, the 
jangling of metal, and Sherlock Holmes sprang to 
his feet again. 

"Gentlemen," he cried, with flashing eyes, "let 
me introduce you to Mr. Jefferson Hope, the mur- 
derer of Enoch Drebber and of Joseph Stangerson." 

The whole thing occurred in a moment — so 
quickly that I had no time to realize it. I have 
a vivid recollection of that instant, of Holmes' 
triumphant expression and the ring of his voice, 
of the cabman's dazed, savage face, as he glared 
at the glittering handcuffs, which had appeared 
as if by magic upon his wrists. For a second 
or two we might have been a group of statues. 
Then, with an inarticulate roar of fury, the pris- 
oner wrenched himself free from Holmes's grasp, 
and hurled himself through the window. Wood- 
work and glass gave way before him; but before he 
got quite through, Gregson, Lestrade, and Holmes 
sprang upon him like so many staghounds. He 
was dragged back into the room, and then com- 
menced a terrific conflict. So powerful and so 
fierce was he, that the four of us were shaken off 
again and again. He appeared to have the con- 
vulsive strength of a man in an epileptic fit. His 
face and hands were terribly mangled by his pas- 
sage through the glass, but loss of blood had no ef- 
fect in diminishing his resistance. It was not until 
Lestrade succeeded in getting his hand inside his 
neckcloth and half-strangling him that we made 
him realize that his struggles were of no avail; and 
even then we felt no security until we had pinioned 
his feet as well as his hands. That done, we rose to 
our feet breathless and panting. 

"We have his cab," said Sherlock Holmes. "It 
will serve to take him to Scotland Yard. And now, 
gentlemen," he continued, with a pleasant smile, 
"we have reached the end of our little mystery. 
You are very welcome to put any questions that 
you like to me now, and there is no danger that I 
will refuse to answer them." 



33 



PART II. 

The Country of the Saints. 



A Study In Scarlet 



CHAPTER I. 

On The Great Alkali Plain 



In the central portion of the great North 
American Continent there lies an arid and repul- 
sive desert, which for many a long year served 
as a barrier against the advance of civilisation. 
From the Sierra Nevada to Nebraska, and from 
the Yellowstone River in the north to the Colorado 
upon the south, is a region of desolation and si- 
lence. Nor is Nature always in one mood through- 
out this grim district. It comprises snow-capped 
and lofty mountains, and dark and gloomy val- 
leys. There are swift-flowing rivers which dash 
through jagged canons; and there are enormous 
plains, which in winter are white with snow, and 
in summer are grey with the saline alkali dust. 
They all preserve, however, the common charac- 
teristics of barrenness, inhospitality, and misery. 

There are no inhabitants of this land of despair. 
A band of Pawnees or of Blackfeet may occasion- 
ally traverse it in order to reach other hunting- 
grounds, but the hardiest of the braves are glad 
to lose sight of those awesome plains, and to find 
themselves once more upon their prairies. The 
coyote skulks among the scrub, the buzzard flaps 
heavily through the air, and the clumsy grizzly 
bear lumbers through the dark ravines, and picks 
up such sustenance as it can amongst the rocks. 
These are the sole dwellers in the wilderness. 

In the whole world there can be no more dreary 
view than that from the northern slope of the 
Sierra Blanco. As far as the eye can reach stretches 
the great flat plain-land, all dusted over with 
patches of alkali, and intersected by clumps of the 
dwarfish chaparral bushes. On the extreme verge 
of the horizon lie a long chain of mountain peaks, 
with their rugged summits flecked with snow. In 
this great stretch of country there is no sign of life, 
nor of anything appertaining to life. There is no 
bird in the steel-blue heaven, no movement upon 
the dull, grey earth — above all, there is absolute si- 
lence. Listen as one may, there is no shadow of a 
sound in all that mighty wilderness; nothing but 
silence — complete and heart-subduing silence. 

It has been said there is nothing appertaining 
to life upon the broad plain. That is hardly true. 
Looking down from the Sierra Blanco, one sees a 
pathway traced out across the desert, which winds 
away and is lost in the extreme distance. It is rut- 
ted with wheels and trodden down by the feet of 
many adventurers. Here and there there are scat- 
tered white objects which glisten in the sun, and 



stand out against the dull deposit of alkali. Ap- 
proach, and examine them! They are bones: some 
large and coarse, others smaller and more delicate. 
The former have belonged to oxen, and the latter to 
men. For fifteen hundred miles one may trace this 
ghastly caravan route by these scattered remains 
of those who had fallen by the wayside. 

Looking down on this very scene, there stood 
upon the fourth of May, eighteen hundred and 
forty-seven, a solitary traveller. His appearance 
was such that he might have been the very genius 
or demon of the region. An observer would have 
found it difficult to say whether he was nearer to 
forty or to sixty. His face was lean and haggard, 
and the brown parchment-like skin was drawn 
tightly over the projecting bones; his long, brown 
hair and beard were all flecked and dashed with 
white; his eyes were sunken in his head, and 
burned with an unnatural lustre; while the hand 
which grasped his rifle was hardly more fleshy 
than that of a skeleton. As he stood, he leaned 
upon his weapon for support, and yet his tall fig- 
ure and the massive framework of his bones sug- 
gested a wiry and vigorous constitution. His gaunt 
face, however, and his clothes, which hung so bag- 
gily over his shrivelled limbs, proclaimed what it 
was that gave him that senile and decrepit appear- 
ance. The man was dying — dying from hunger 
and from thirst. 

He had toiled painfully down the ravine, and 
on to this little elevation, in the vain hope of see- 
ing some signs of water. Now the great salt plain 
stretched before his eyes, and the distant belt of 
savage mountains, without a sign anywhere of 
plant or tree, which might indicate the presence 
of moisture. In all that broad landscape there was 
no gleam of hope. North, and east, and west he 
looked with wild questioning eyes, and then he 
realised that his wanderings had come to an end, 
and that there, on that barren crag, he was about 
to die. "Why not here, as well as in a feather bed, 
twenty years hence," he muttered, as he seated 
himself in the shelter of a boulder. 

Before sitting down, he had deposited upon the 
ground his useless rifle, and also a large bundle 
tied up in a grey shawl, which he had carried slung 
over his right shoulder. It appeared to be some- 
what too heavy for his strength, for in lowering it, 
it came down on the ground with some little vio- 
lence. Instantly there broke from the grey parcel 
a little moaning cry, and from it there protruded 



37 



A Study In Scarlet 



a small, scared face, with very bright brown eyes, 
and two little speckled, dimpled fists. 

"You've hurt me!" said a childish voice re- 
proachfully. 

"Have I though," the man answered penitently, 
"I didn't go for to do it." As he spoke he un- 
wrapped the grey shawl and extricated a pretty 
little girl of about five years of age, whose dainty 
shoes and smart pink frock with its little linen 
apron all bespoke a mother's care. The child 
was pale and wan, but her healthy arms and legs 
showed that she had suffered less than her com- 
panion. 

"How is it now?" he answered anxiously, for 
she was still rubbing the towsy golden curls which 
covered the back of her head. 

"Kiss it and make it well," she said, with 
perfect gravity, shoving the injured part up to 
him. "That's what mother used to do. Where's 
mother?" 

"Mother's gone. I guess you'll see her before 
long." 

"Gone, eh!" said the little girl. "Funny, she 
didn't say good-bye; she 'most always did if she 
was just goin' over to Auntie's for tea, and now 
she's been away three days. Say, it's awful dry, 
ain't it? Ain't there no water, nor nothing to eat?" 

"No, there ain't nothing, dearie. You'll just 
need to be patient awhile, and then you'll be all 
right. Put your head up agin me like that, and 
then you'll feel bullier. It ain't easy to talk when 
your lips is like leather, but I guess I'd best let you 
know how the cards lie. What's that you've got?" 

"Pretty things! fine things!" cried the little girl 
enthusiastically, holding up two glittering frag- 
ments of mica. "When we goes back to home I'll 
give them to brother Bob." 

"You'll see prettier things than them soon," 
said the man confidently. "You just wait a bit. 
I was going to tell you though — you remember 
when we left the river?" 

"Oh, yes." 

"Well, we reckoned we'd strike another river 
soon, d'ye see. But there was somethin' wrong; 
compasses, or map, or somethin', and it didn't 
turn up. Water ran out. Just except a little drop 
for the likes of you and — and — " 

"And you couldn't wash yourself," interrupted 
his companion gravely, staring up at his grimy vis- 
age. 



"No, nor drink. And Mr. Bender, he was the 
fust to go, and then Indian Pete, and then Mrs. Mc- 
Gregor, and then Johnny Hones, and then, dearie, 
your mother." 

"Then mother's a deader too," cried the little 
girl dropping her face in her pinafore and sobbing 
bitterly. 

"Yes, they all went except you and me. Then 
I thought there was some chance of water in this 
direction, so I heaved you over my shoulder and 
we tramped it together. It don't seem as though 
we've improved matters. There's an almighty 
small chance for us now!" 

"Do you mean that we are going to die too?" 
asked the child, checking her sobs, and raising her 
tear-stained face. 

"I guess that's about the size of it." 

"Why didn't you say so before?" she said, 
laughing gleefully. "You gave me such a fright. 
Why, of course, now as long as we die we'll be 
with mother again." 

"Yes, you will, dearie." 

"And you too. I'll tell her how awful good 
you've been. I'll bet she meets us at the door of 
Heaven with a big pitcher of water, and a lot of 
buckwheat cakes, hot, and toasted on both sides, 
like Bob and me was fond of. How long will it be 
first?" 

"I don't know — not very long." The man's eyes 
were fixed upon the northern horizon. In the blue 
vault of the heaven there had appeared three lit- 
tle specks which increased in size every moment, 
so rapidly did they approach. They speedily re- 
solved themselves into three large brown birds, 
which circled over the heads of the two wander- 
ers, and then settled upon some rocks which over- 
looked them. They were buzzards, the vultures of 
the west, whose coming is the forerunner of death. 

"Cocks and hens," cried the little girl gleefully, 
pointing at their ill-omened forms, and clapping 
her hands to make them rise. "Say, did God make 
this country?" 

"Of course He did," said her companion, rather 
startled by this unexpected question. 

"He made the country down in Illinois, and He 
made the Missouri," the little girl continued. "I 
guess somebody else made the country in these 
parts. It's not nearly so well done. They forgot the 
water and the trees." 

"What would ye think of offering up prayer?" 
the man asked diffidently. 

"It ain't night yet," she answered. 



38 



A Study In Scarlet 



"It don't matter. It ain't quite regular, but He 
won't mind that, you bet. You say over them ones 
that you used to say every night in the waggon 
when we was on the Plains." 

"Why don't you say some yourself?" the child 
asked, with wondering eyes. 

"I disremember them," he answered. "I hain't 
said none since I was half the height o' that gun. I 
guess it's never too late. You say them out, and I'll 
stand by and come in on the choruses." 

"Then you'll need to kneel down, and me too," 
she said, laying the shawl out for that purpose. 
"You've got to put your hands up like this. It 
makes you feel kind o' good." 

It was a strange sight had there been anything 
but the buzzards to see it. Side by side on the 
narrow shawl knelt the two wanderers, the little 
prattling child and the reckless, hardened adven- 
turer. Her chubby face, and his haggard, angu- 
lar visage were both turned up to the cloudless 
heaven in heartfelt entreaty to that dread being 
with whom they were face to face, while the two 
voices — the one thin and clear, the other deep and 
harsh — united in the entreaty for mercy and for- 
giveness. The prayer finished, they resumed their 
seat in the shadow of the boulder until the child 
fell asleep, nestling upon the broad breast of her 
protector. He watched over her slumber for some 
time, but Nature proved to be too strong for him. 
For three days and three nights he had allowed 
himself neither rest nor repose. Slowly the eyelids 
drooped over the tired eyes, and the head sunk 
lower and lower upon the breast, until the man's 
grizzled beard was mixed with the gold tresses of 
his companion, and both slept the same deep and 
dreamless slumber. 

Had the wanderer remained awake for another 
half hour a strange sight would have met his eyes. 
Far away on the extreme verge of the alkali plain 
there rose up a little spray of dust, very slight at 
first, and hardly to be distinguished from the mists 
of the distance, but gradually growing higher and 
broader until it formed a solid, well-defined cloud. 
This cloud continued to increase in size until it 
became evident that it could only be raised by 
a great multitude of moving creatures. In more 
fertile spots the observer would have come to the 
conclusion that one of those great herds of bisons 
which graze upon the prairie land was approach- 
ing him. This was obviously impossible in these 
arid wilds. As the whirl of dust drew nearer to the 
solitary bluff upon which the two castaways were 
reposing, the canvas-covered tilts of waggons and 
the figures of armed horsemen began to show up 



through the haze, and the apparition revealed it- 
self as being a great caravan upon its journey for 
the West. But what a caravan! When the head 
of it had reached the base of the mountains, the 
rear was not yet visible on the horizon. Right 
across the enormous plain stretched the straggling 
array, waggons and carts, men on horseback, and 
men on foot. Innumerable women who staggered 
along under burdens, and children who toddled 
beside the waggons or peeped out from under the 
white coverings. This was evidently no ordinary 
party of immigrants, but rather some nomad peo- 
ple who had been compelled from stress of circum- 
stances to seek themselves a new country. There 
rose through the clear air a confused clattering and 
rumbling from this great mass of humanity, with 
the creaking of wheels and the neighing of horses. 
Loud as it was, it was not sufficient to rouse the 
two tired wayfarers above them. 

At the head of the column there rode a score 
or more of grave ironfaced men, clad in sombre 
homespun garments and armed with rifles. On 
reaching the base of the bluff they halted, and held 
a short council among themselves. 

"The wells are to the right, my brothers," said 
one, a hard-lipped, clean-shaven man with grizzly 
hair. 

"To the right of the Sierra Blanco — so we shall 
reach the Rio Grande," said another. 

"Fear not for water," cried a third. "He who 
could draw it from the rocks will not now aban- 
don His own chosen people." 

"Amen! Amen!" responded the whole party. 

They were about to resume their journey when 
one of the youngest and keenest-eyed uttered an 
exclamation and pointed up at the rugged crag 
above them. From its summit there fluttered a 
little wisp of pink, showing up hard and bright 
against the grey rocks behind. At the sight there 
was a general reining up of horses and unslinging 
of guns, while fresh horsemen came galloping up 
to reinforce the vanguard. The word "Redskins" 
was on every lip. 

"There can't be any number of Injuns here," 
said the elderly man who appeared to be in com- 
mand. "We have passed the Pawnees, and there 
are no other tribes until we cross the great moun- 
tains." 

"Shall I go forward and see, Brother Stanger- 
son," asked one of the band. 

"And I," "and I," cried a dozen voices. 

"Leave your horses below and we will await 
you here," the Elder answered. In a moment 



39 



A Study In Scarlet 



the young fellows had dismounted, fastened their 
horses, and were ascending the precipitous slope 
which led up to the object which had excited 
their curiosity. They advanced rapidly and noise- 
lessly, with the confidence and dexterity of prac- 
tised scouts. The watchers from the plain below 
could see them flit from rock to rock until their 
figures stood out against the skyline. The young 
man who had first given the alarm was leading 
them. Suddenly his followers saw him throw up 
his hands, as though overcome with astonishment, 
and on joining him they were affected in the same 
way by the sight which met their eyes. 

On the little plateau which crowned the barren 
hill there stood a single giant boulder, and against 
this boulder there lay a tall man, long-bearded and 
hard-featured, but of an excessive thinness. His 
placid face and regular breathing showed that he 
was fast asleep. Beside him lay a little child, with 
her round white arms encircling his brown sinewy 
neck, and her golden haired head resting upon 
the breast of his velveteen tunic. Her rosy lips 
were parted, showing the regular line of snow- 
white teeth within, and a playful smile played over 
her infantile features. Her plump little white legs 
terminating in white socks and neat shoes with 
shining buckles, offered a strange contrast to the 
long shrivelled members of her companion. On 
the ledge of rock above this strange couple there 
stood three solemn buzzards, who, at the sight of 
the new comers uttered raucous screams of disap- 
pointment and flapped sullenly away. 

The cries of the foul birds awoke the two sleep- 
ers who stared about them in bewilderment. The 
man staggered to his feet and looked down upon 
the plain which had been so desolate when sleep 
had overtaken him, and which was now traversed 
by this enormous body of men and of beasts. His 
face assumed an expression of incredulity as he 
gazed, and he passed his boney hand over his eyes. 
"This is what they call delirium, I guess," he mut- 
tered. The child stood beside him, holding on to 
the skirt of his coat, and said nothing but looked 
all round her with the wondering questioning gaze 
of childhood. 

The rescuing party were speedily able to con- 
vince the two castaways that their appearance was 
no delusion. One of them seized the little girl, and 
hoisted her upon his shoulder, while two others 
supported her gaunt companion, and assisted him 
towards the waggons. 

"My name is John Ferrier," the wanderer ex- 
plained; "me and that little un are all that's left o' 



twenty-one people. The rest is all dead o' thirst 
and hunger away down in the south." 

"Is she your child?" asked someone. 

"I guess she is now," the other cried, defiantly; 
"she's mine 'cause I saved her. No man will take 
her from me. She's Lucy Ferrier from this day 
on. Who are you, though?" he continued, glancing 
with curiosity at his stalwart, sunburned rescuers; 
"there seems to be a powerful lot of ye." 

"Nigh upon ten thousand," said one of the 
young men; "we are the persecuted children of 
God — the chosen of the Angel Merona." 

"I never heard tell on him," said the wanderer. 
"He appears to have chosen a fair crowd of ye." 

"Do not jest at that which is sacred," said the 
other sternly. "We are of those who believe in 
those sacred writings, drawn in Egyptian letters 
on plates of beaten gold, which were handed unto 
the holy Joseph Smith at Palmyra. We have come 
from Nauvoo, in the State of Illinois, where we 
had founded our temple. We have come to seek 
a refuge from the violent man and from the god- 
less, even though it be the heart of the desert. " 

The name of Nauvoo evidently recalled recol- 
lections to John Ferrier. "I see," he said, "you are 
the Mormons." 

"We are the Mormons," answered his compan- 
ions with one voice. 

"And where are you going?" 

"We do not know. The hand of God is lead- 
ing us under the person of our Prophet. You must 
come before him. He shall say what is to be done 
with you." 

They had reached the base of the hill by 
this time, and were surrounded by crowds of 
the pilgrims — pale-faced meek-looking women, 
strong laughing children, and anxious earnest- 
eyed men. Many were the cries of astonishment 
and of commiseration which arose from them 
when they perceived the youth of one of the 
strangers and the destitution of the other. Their es- 
cort did not halt, however, but pushed on, followed 
by a great crowd of Mormons, until they reached a 
waggon, which was conspicuous for its great size 
and for the gaudiness and smartness of its appear- 
ance. Six horses were yoked to it, whereas the 
others were furnished with two, or, at most, four 
a-piece. Beside the driver there sat a man who 
could not have been more than thirty years of age, 
but whose massive head and resolute expression 
marked him as a leader. He was reading a brown- 
backed volume, but as the crowd approached he 
laid it aside, and listened attentively to an account 



40 



A Study In Scarlet 



of the episode. Then he turned to the two cast- 
aways. 

"If we take you with us," he said, in solemn 
words, "it can only be as believers in our own 
creed. We shall have no wolves in our fold. Better 
far that your bones should bleach in this wilder- 
ness than that you should prove to be that little 
speck of decay which in time corrupts the whole 
fruit. Will you come with us on these terms?" 

"Guess I'll come with you on any terms," said 
Ferrier, with such emphasis that the grave Elders 
could not restrain a smile. The leader alone re- 
tained his stern, impressive expression. 

"Take him, Brother Stangerson," he said, "give 
him food and drink, and the child likewise. Let it 
be your task also to teach him our holy creed. We 
have delayed long enough. Forward! On, on to 
Zion!" 



"On, on to Zion!" cried the crowd of Mormons, 
and the words rippled down the long caravan, 
passing from mouth to mouth until they died away 
in a dull murmur in the far distance. With a crack- 
ing of whips and a creaking of wheels the great 
waggons got into motion, and soon the whole car- 
avan was winding along once more. The Elder to 
whose care the two waifs had been committed, led 
them to his waggon, where a meal was already 
awaiting them. 



"You shall remain here," he said. "In a few 
days you will have recovered from your fatigues. 
In the meantime, remember that now and forever 
you are of our religion. Brigham Young has said it, 
and he has spoken with the voice of Joseph Smith, 
which is the voice of God." 



CHAPTER II. 

The Flower Of Utah 



This is not the place to commemorate the 
trials and privations endured by the immigrant 
Mormons before they came to their final haven. 
From the shores of the Mississippi to the west- 
ern slopes of the Rocky Mountains they had strug- 
gled on with a constancy almost unparalleled in 
history. The savage man, and the savage beast, 
hunger, thirst, fatigue, and disease — every imped- 
iment which Nature could place in the way — had 
all been overcome with Anglo-Saxon tenacity. Yet 
the long journey and the accumulated terrors had 
shaken the hearts of the stoutest among them. 
There was not one who did not sink upon his 
knees in heartfelt prayer when they saw the broad 
valley of Utah bathed in the sunlight beneath 
them, and learned from the lips of their leader that 
this was the promised land, and that these virgin 
acres were to be theirs for evermore. 

Young speedily proved himself to be a skilful 
administrator as well as a resolute chief. Maps 
were drawn and charts prepared, in which the 
future city was sketched out. All around farms 
were apportioned and allotted in proportion to 
the standing of each individual. The tradesman 
was put to his trade and the artisan to his calling. 



In the town streets and squares sprang up, as if 
by magic. In the country there was draining and 
hedging, planting and clearing, until the next sum- 
mer saw the whole country golden with the wheat 
crop. Everything prospered in the strange settle- 
ment. Above all, the great temple which they had 
erected in the centre of the city grew ever taller 
and larger. From the first blush of dawn until the 
closing of the twilight, the clatter of the hammer 
and the rasp of the saw was never absent from the 
monument which the immigrants erected to Him 
who had led them safe through many dangers. 

The two castaways, John Ferrier and the little 
girl who had shared his fortunes and had been 
adopted as his daughter, accompanied the Mor- 
mons to the end of their great pilgrimage. Little 
Lucy Ferrier was borne along pleasantly enough 
in Elder Stangerson's waggon, a retreat which she 
shared with the Mormon's three wives and with 
his son, a headstrong forward boy of twelve. Hav- 
ing rallied, with the elasticity of childhood, from 
the shock caused by her mother's death, she soon 
became a pet with the women, and reconciled her- 
self to this new life in her moving canvas-covered 
home. In the meantime Ferrier having recovered 



4i 



A Study In Scarlet 



from his privations, distinguished himself as a use- 
ful guide and an indefatigable hunter. So rapidly 
did he gain the esteem of his new companions, 
that when they reached the end of their wander- 
ings, it was unanimously agreed that he should 
be provided with as large and as fertile a tract of 
land as any of the settlers, with the exception of 
Young himself, and of Stangerson, Kemball, John- 
ston, and Drebber, who were the four principal El- 
ders. 

On the farm thus acquired John Ferrier built 
himself a substantial log-house, which received so 
many additions in succeeding years that it grew 
into a roomy villa. He was a man of a practi- 
cal turn of mind, keen in his dealings and skil- 
ful with his hands. His iron constitution enabled 
him to work morning and evening at improving 
and tilling his lands. Hence it came about that his 
farm and all that belonged to him prospered ex- 
ceedingly. In three years he was better off than 
his neighbours, in six he was well-to-do, in nine 
he was rich, and in twelve there were not half a 
dozen men in the whole of Salt Lake City who 
could compare with him. From the great inland 
sea to the distant Wahsatch Mountains there was 
no name better known than that of John Ferrier. 

There was one way and only one in which he 
offended the susceptibilities of his co-religionists. 
No argument or persuasion could ever induce him 
to set up a female establishment after the manner 
of his companions. He never gave reasons for this 
persistent refusal, but contented himself by res- 
olutely and inflexibly adhering to his determina- 
tion. There were some who accused him of luke- 
warmness in his adopted religion, and others who 
put it down to greed of wealth and reluctance to 
incur expense. Others, again, spoke of some early 
love affair, and of a fair-haired girl who had pined 
away on the shores of the Atlantic. Whatever the 
reason, Ferrier remained strictly celibate. In every 
other respect he conformed to the religion of the 
young settlement, and gained the name of being 
an orthodox and straight-walking man. 

Lucy Ferrier grew up within the log-house, and 
assisted her adopted father in all his undertakings. 
The keen air of the mountains and the balsamic 
odour of the pine trees took the place of nurse and 
mother to the young girl. As year succeeded to 
year she grew taller and stronger, her cheek more 
rudy, and her step more elastic. Many a wayfarer 
upon the high road which ran by Ferrier 's farm 
felt long-forgotten thoughts revive in their mind 
as they watched her lithe girlish figure tripping 
through the wheatfields, or met her mounted upon 



her father's mustang, and managing it with all the 
ease and grace of a true child of the West. So the 
bud blossomed into a flower, and the year which 
saw her father the richest of the farmers left her as 
fair a specimen of American girlhood as could be 
found in the whole Pacific slope. 

It was not the father, however, who first discov- 
ered that the child had developed into the woman. 
It seldom is in such cases. That mysterious change 
is too subtle and too gradual to be measured by 
dates. Least of all does the maiden herself know 
it until the tone of a voice or the touch of a hand 
sets her heart thrilling within her, and she learns, 
with a mixture of pride and of fear, that a new and 
a larger nature has awoken within her. There are 
few who cannot recall that day and remember the 
one little incident which heralded the dawn of a 
new life. In the case of Lucy Ferrier the occasion 
was serious enough in itself, apart from its future 
influence on her destiny and that of many besides. 

It was a warm June morning, and the Latter 
Day Saints were as busy as the bees whose hive 
they have chosen for their emblem. In the fields 
and in the streets rose the same hum of human in- 
dustry. Down the dusty high roads defiled long 
streams of heavily-laden mules, all heading to the 
west, for the gold fever had broken out in Cal- 
ifornia, and the Overland Route lay through the 
City of the Elect. There, too, were droves of sheep 
and bullocks coming in from the outlying pasture 
lands, and trains of tired immigrants, men and 
horses equally weary of their interminable jour- 
ney. Through all this motley assemblage, thread- 
ing her way with the skill of an accomplished rider, 
there galloped Lucy Ferrier, her fair face flushed 
with the exercise and her long chestnut hair float- 
ing out behind her. She had a commission from 
her father in the City, and was dashing in as she 
had done many a time before, with all the fearless- 
ness of youth, thinking only of her task and how 
it was to be performed. The travel-stained adven- 
turers gazed after her in astonishment, and even 
the unemotional Indians, journeying in with their 
pelties, relaxed their accustomed stoicism as they 
marvelled at the beauty of the pale-faced maiden. 

She had reached the outskirts of the city when 
she found the road blocked by a great drove of cat- 
tle, driven by a half-dozen wild-looking herdsmen 
from the plains. In her impatience she endeav- 
oured to pass this obstacle by pushing her horse 
into what appeared to be a gap. Scarcely had 
she got fairly into it, however, before the beasts 
closed in behind her, and she found herself com- 
pletely imbedded in the moving stream of fierce- 
eyed, long-horned bullocks. Accustomed as she 



42 



A Study In Scarlet 



was to deal with cattle, she was not alarmed at 
her situation, but took advantage of every oppor- 
tunity to urge her horse on in the hopes of push- 
ing her way through the cavalcade. Unfortunately 
the horns of one of the creatures, either by acci- 
dent or design, came in violent contact with the 
flank of the mustang, and excited it to madness. 
In an instant it reared up upon its hind legs with 
a snort of rage, and pranced and tossed in a way 
that would have unseated any but a most skilful 
rider. The situation was full of peril. Every plunge 
of the excited horse brought it against the horns 
again, and goaded it to fresh madness. It was all 
that the girl could do to keep herself in the sad- 
dle, yet a slip would mean a terrible death under 
the hoofs of the unwieldy and terrified animals. 
Unaccustomed to sudden emergencies, her head 
began to swim, and her grip upon the bridle to 
relax. Choked by the rising cloud of dust and by 
the steam from the struggling creatures, she might 
have abandoned her efforts in despair, but for a 
kindly voice at her elbow which assured her of 
assistance. At the same moment a sinewy brown 
hand caught the frightened horse by the curb, and 
forcing a way through the drove, soon brought her 
to the outskirts. 

"You're not hurt, I hope, miss," said her pre- 
server, respectfully. 

She looked up at his dark, fierce face, and 
laughed saucily. "I'm awful frightened," she said, 
naively; "whoever would have thought that Pon- 
cho would have been so scared by a lot of cows?" 

"Thank God you kept your seat," the other said 
earnestly. He was a tall, savage-looking young fel- 
low, mounted on a powerful roan horse, and clad 
in the rough dress of a hunter, with a long rifle 
slung over his shoulders. "I guess you are the 
daughter of John Ferrier," he remarked, "I saw you 
ride down from his house. When you see him, 
ask him if he remembers the Jefferson Hopes of St. 
Louis. If he's the same Ferrier, my father and he 
were pretty thick." 

"Hadn't you better come and ask yourself?" 
she asked, demurely. 

The young fellow seemed pleased at the sug- 
gestion, and his dark eyes sparkled with pleasure. 
"I'll do so," he said, "we've been in the mountains 
for two months, and are not over and above in vis- 
iting condition. He must take us as he finds us." 

"He has a good deal to thank you for, and so 
have I," she answered, "he's awful fond of me. If 
those cows had jumped on me he'd have never got 
over it." 



"Neither would I," said her companion. 

"You! Well, I don't see that it would make 
much matter to you, anyhow. You ain't even a 
friend of ours." 

The young hunter's dark face grew so gloomy 
over this remark that Lucy Ferrier laughed aloud. 

"There, I didn't mean that," she said; "of 
course, you are a friend now. You must come and 
see us. Now I must push along, or father won't 
trust me with his business any more. Good-bye!" 

"Good-bye," he answered, raising his broad 
sombrero, and bending over her little hand. She 
wheeled her mustang round, gave it a cut with 
her riding-whip, and darted away down the broad 
road in a rolling cloud of dust. 

Young Jefferson Hope rode on with his com- 
panions, gloomy and taciturn. He and they had 
been among the Nevada Mountains prospecting 
for silver, and were returning to Salt Lake City in 
the hope of raising capital enough to work some 
lodes which they had discovered. He had been 
as keen as any of them upon the business un- 
til this sudden incident had drawn his thoughts 
into another channel. The sight of the fair young 
girl, as frank and wholesome as the Sierra breezes, 
had stirred his volcanic, untamed heart to its very 
depths. When she had vanished from his sight, 
he realized that a crisis had come in his life, and 
that neither silver speculations nor any other ques- 
tions could ever be of such importance to him as 
this new and all-absorbing one. The love which 
had sprung up in his heart was not the sudden, 
changeable fancy of a boy, but rather the wild, 
fierce passion of a man of strong will and impe- 
rious temper. He had been accustomed to succeed 
in all that he undertook. He swore in his heart 
that he would not fail in this if human effort and 
human perseverance could render him successful. 

He called on John Ferrier that night, and many 
times again, until his face was a familiar one at 
the farm-house. John, cooped up in the valley, 
and absorbed in his work, had had little chance 
of learning the news of the outside world dur- 
ing the last twelve years. All this Jefferson Hope 
was able to tell him, and in a style which inter- 
ested Lucy as well as her father. He had been a 
pioneer in California, and could narrate many a 
strange tale of fortunes made and fortunes lost in 
those wild, halcyon days. He had been a scout too, 
and a trapper, a silver explorer, and a ranchman. 
Wherever stirring adventures were to be had, Jef- 
ferson Hope had been there in search of them. He 
soon became a favourite with the old farmer, who 
spoke eloquently of his virtues. On such occasions, 



43 



A Study In Scarlet 



Lucy was silent, but her blushing cheek and her 
bright, happy eyes, showed only too clearly that 
her young heart was no longer her own. Her hon- 
est father may not have observed these symptoms, 
but they were assuredly not thrown away upon the 
man who had won her affections. 

It was a summer evening when he came gallop- 
ing down the road and pulled up at the gate. She 
was at the doorway, and came down to meet him. 
He threw the bridle over the fence and strode up 
the pathway. 

"I am off, Lucy," he said, taking her two hands 
in his, and gazing tenderly down into her face; "I 
won't ask you to come with me now, but will you 
be ready to come when I am here again?" 

"And when will that be?" she asked, blushing 
and laughing. 

"A couple of months at the outside. I will come 
and claim you then, my darling. There's no one 
who can stand between us." 



"And how about father?" she asked. 

"He has given his consent, provided we get 
these mines working all right. I have no fear on 
that head." 

"Oh, well; of course, if you and father have ar- 
ranged it all, there's no more to be said," she whis- 
pered, with her cheek against his broad breast. 

"Thank God!" he said, hoarsely, stooping and 
kissing her. "It is settled, then. The longer I stay, 
the harder it will be to go. They are waiting for me 
at the canon. Good-bye, my own darling — good- 
bye. In two months you shall see me." 

He tore himself from her as he spoke, and, 
flinging himself upon his horse, galloped furiously 
away, never even looking round, as though afraid 
that his resolution might fail him if he took one 
glance at what he was leaving. She stood at the 
gate, gazing after him until he vanished from her 
sight. Then she walked back into the house, the 
happiest girl in all Utah. 



CHAPTER III. 

John Ferrier Talks With The Prophet 



Three weeks had passed since Jefferson Hope 
and his comrades had departed from Salt Lake 
City. John Ferrier 's heart was sore within him 
when he thought of the young man's return, and 
of the impending loss of his adopted child. Yet 
her bright and happy face reconciled him to the 
arrangement more than any argument could have 
done. He had always determined, deep down in 
his resolute heart, that nothing would ever induce 
him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such 
a marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as 
a shame and a disgrace. Whatever he might think 
of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point he 
was inflexible. He had to seal his mouth on the 
subject, however, for to express an unorthodox 
opinion was a dangerous matter in those days in 
the Land of the Saints. 

Yes, a dangerous matter — so dangerous that 
even the most saintly dared only whisper their re- 
ligious opinions with bated breath, lest something 
which fell from their lips might be misconstrued, 
and bring down a swift retribution upon them. 
The victims of persecution had now turned per- 



secutors on their own account, and persecutors of 
the most terrible description. Not the Inquisition 
of Seville, nor the German Vehmgericht, nor the 
Secret Societies of Italy, were ever able to put a 
more formidable machinery in motion than that 
which cast a cloud over the State of Utah. 

Its invisibility, and the mystery which was at- 
tached to it, made this organization doubly terri- 
ble. It appeared to be omniscient and omnipotent, 
and yet was neither seen nor heard. The man who 
held out against the Church vanished away, and 
none knew whither he had gone or what had be- 
fallen him. His wife and his children awaited him 
at home, but no father ever returned to tell them 
how he had fared at the hands of his secret judges. 
A rash word or a hasty act was followed by annihi- 
lation, and yet none knew what the nature might 
be of this terrible power which was suspended 
over them. No wonder that men went about in 
fear and trembling, and that even in the heart of 
the wilderness they dared not whisper the doubts 
which oppressed them. 



44 



A Study In Scarlet 



At first this vague and terrible power was ex- 
ercised only upon the recalcitrants who, having 
embraced the Mormon faith, wished afterwards 
to pervert or to abandon it. Soon, however, it 
took a wider range. The supply of adult women 
was running short, and polygamy without a fe- 
male population on which to draw was a bar- 
ren doctrine indeed. Strange rumours began to 
be bandied about — rumours of murdered immi- 
grants and rifled camps in regions where Indians 
had never been seen. Fresh women appeared in 
the harems of the Elders — women who pined and 
wept, and bore upon their faces the traces of an un- 
extinguishable horror. Belated wanderers upon the 
mountains spoke of gangs of armed men, masked, 
stealthy, and noiseless, who flitted by them in 
the darkness. These tales and rumours took sub- 
stance and shape, and were corroborated and re- 
corroborated, until they resolved themselves into 
a definite name. To this day, in the lonely ranches 
of the West, the name of the Danite Band, or the 
Avenging Angels, is a sinister and an ill-omened 
one. 

Fuller knowledge of the organization which 
produced such terrible results served to increase 
rather than to lessen the horror which it inspired 
in the minds of men. None knew who belonged 
to this ruthless society. The names of the partic- 
ipators in the deeds of blood and violence done 
under the name of religion were kept profoundly 
secret. The very friend to whom you communi- 
cated your misgivings as to the Prophet and his 
mission, might be one of those who would come 
forth at night with fire and sword to exact a terrible 
reparation. Hence every man feared his neighbour, 
and none spoke of the things which were nearest 
his heart. 

One fine morning, John Ferrier was about to set 
out to his wheatfields, when he heard the click of 
the latch, and, looking through the window, saw 
a stout, sandy-haired, middle-aged man coming 
up the pathway. His heart leapt to his mouth, for 
this was none other than the great Brigham Young 
himself. Full of trepidation — for he knew that such 
a visit boded him little good — Ferrier ran to the 
door to greet the Mormon chief. The latter, how- 
ever, received his salutations coldly, and followed 
him with a stern face into the sitting-room. 

"Brother Ferrier," he said, taking a seat, and 
eyeing the farmer keenly from under his light- 
coloured eyelashes, "the true believers have been 
good friends to you. We picked you up when you 
were starving in the desert, we shared our food 



with you, led you safe to the Chosen Valley, gave 
you a goodly share of land, and allowed you to 
wax rich under our protection. Is not this so?" 

"It is so," answered John Ferrier. 

"In return for all this we asked but one condi- 
tion: that was, that you should embrace the true 
faith, and conform in every way to its usages. This 
you promised to do, and this, if common report 
says truly, you have neglected." 

"And how have I neglected it?" asked Ferrier, 
throwing out his hands in expostulation. "Have 
I not given to the common fund? Have I not at- 
tended at the Temple? Have I not — ?" 

"Where are your wives?" asked Young, looking 
round him. "Call them in, that I may greet them." 

"It is true that I have not married," Ferrier an- 
swered. "But women were few, and there were 
many who had better claims than I. I was not a 
lonely man: I had my daughter to attend to my 
wants." 

"It is of that daughter that I would speak to 
you," said the leader of the Mormons. "She has 
grown to be the flower of Utah, and has found 
favour in the eyes of many who are high in the 
land." 

John Ferrier groaned internally. 

"There are stories of her which I would fain dis- 
believe — stories that she is sealed to some Gentile. 
This must be the gossip of idle tongues. What is 
the thirteenth rule in the code of the sainted Joseph 
Smith? 'Let every maiden of the true faith marry 
one of the elect; for if she wed a Gentile, she com- 
mits a grievous sin.' This being so, it is impossible 
that you, who profess the holy creed, should suffer 
your daughter to violate it." 

John Ferrier made no answer, but he played 
nervously with his riding- whip. 

"Upon this one point your whole faith shall be 
tested — so it has been decided in the Sacred Coun- 
cil of Four. The girl is young, and we would not 
have her wed grey hairs, neither would we deprive 
her of all choice. We Elders have many heifers, F] 
but our children must also be provided. Stanger- 
son has a son, and Drebber has a son, and either 
of them would gladly welcome your daughter to 
their house. Let her choose between them. They 
are young and rich, and of the true faith. What say 
you to that?" 

Ferrier remained silent for some little time with 
his brows knitted. 

"You will give us time," he said at last. "My 
daughter is very young — she is scarce of an age to 
marry. " 



'Heber C. Kemball, in one of his sermons, alludes to his hundred wives under this endearing epithet. 



45 



A Study In Scarlet 



"She shall have a month to choose," said 
Young, rising from his seat. "At the end of that 
time she shall give her answer." 

He was passing through the door, when he 
turned, with flushed face and flashing eyes. "It 
were better for you, John Ferrier," he thundered, 
"that you and she were now lying blanched skele- 
tons upon the Sierra Blanco, than that you should 
put your weak wills against the orders of the Holy 
Four!" 

With a threatening gesture of his hand, he 
turned from the door, and Ferrier heard his heavy 
step scrunching along the shingly path. 

He was still sitting with his elbows upon his 
knees, considering how he should broach the mat- 
ter to his daughter when a soft hand was laid 
upon his, and looking up, he saw her standing be- 
side him. One glance at her pale, frightened face 
showed him that she had heard what had passed. 

"I could not help it," she said, in answer to his 
look. "His voice rang through the house. Oh, fa- 
ther, father, what shall we do?" 

"Don't you scare yourself," he answered, draw- 
ing her to him, and passing his broad, rough hand 
caressingly over her chestnut hair. "We'll fix it up 
somehow or another. You don't find your fancy 
kind o' lessening for this chap, do you?" 

A sob and a squeeze of his hand was her only 
answer. 

"No; of course not. I shouldn't care to hear you 
say you did. He's a likely lad, and he's a Christian, 
which is more than these folk here, in spite o' all 
their praying and preaching. There's a party start- 
ing for Nevada to-morrow, and I'll manage to send 
him a message letting him know the hole we are 
in. If I know anything o' that young man, he'll be 
back here with a speed that would whip electro- 
telegraphs." 



Lucy laughed through her tears at her father's 
description. 

"When he comes, he will advise us for the best. 
But it is for you that I am frightened, dear. One 
hears — one hears such dreadful stories about those 
who oppose the Prophet: something terrible al- 
ways happens to them." 

"But we haven't opposed him yet," her father 
answered. "It will be time to look out for squalls 
when we do. We have a clear month before us; at 
the end of that, I guess we had best shin out of 
Utah." 

"Leave Utah!" 

"That's about the size of it." 

"But the farm?" 

"We will raise as much as we can in money, and 
let the rest go. To tell the truth, Lucy, it isn't the 
first time I have thought of doing it. I don't care 
about knuckling under to any man, as these folk 
do to their darned prophet. I'm a free-born Amer- 
ican, and it's all new to me. Guess I'm too old to 
learn. If he comes browsing about this farm, he 
might chance to run up against a charge of buck- 
shot travelling in the opposite direction." 

"But they won't let us leave," his daughter ob- 
jected. 

"Wait till Jefferson comes, and we'll soon man- 
age that. In the meantime, don't you fret yourself, 
my dearie, and don't get your eyes swelled up, else 
he'll be walking into me when he sees you. There's 
nothing to be afeared about, and there's no danger 
at all." 

John Ferrier uttered these consoling remarks in 
a very confident tone, but she could not help ob- 
serving that he paid unusual care to the fasten- 
ing of the doors that night, and that he carefully 
cleaned and loaded the rusty old shotgun which 
hung upon the wall of his bedroom. 



CHAPTER IV. 

A Flight For Life 



On the morning which followed his interview 
with the Mormon Prophet, John Ferrier went in to 
Salt Lake City, and having found his acquaintance, 



who was bound for the Nevada Mountains, he en- 
trusted him with his message to Jefferson Hope. 
In it he told the young man of the imminent dan- 



46 



A Study In Scarlet 



ger which threatened them, and how necessary it 
was that he should return. Having done thus he 
felt easier in his mind, and returned home with a 
lighter heart. 

As he approached his farm, he was surprised to 
see a horse hitched to each of the posts of the gate. 
Still more surprised was he on entering to find 
two young men in possession of his sitting-room. 
One, with a long pale face, was leaning back in 
the rocking-chair, with his feet cocked up upon the 
stove. The other, a bull-necked youth with coarse 
bloated features, was standing in front of the win- 
dow with his hands in his pocket, whistling a pop- 
ular hymn. Both of them nodded to Ferrier as 
he entered, and the one in the rocking-chair com- 
menced the conversation. 

"Maybe you don't know us," he said. "This 
here is the son of Elder Drebber, and I'm Joseph 
Stangerson, who travelled with you in the desert 
when the Lord stretched out His hand and gath- 
ered you into the true fold." 

"As He will all the nations in His own good 
time," said the other in a nasal voice; "He grindeth 
slowly but exceeding small." 

John Ferrier bowed coldly. He had guessed 
who his visitors were. 

"We have come," continued Stangerson, "at the 
advice of our fathers to solicit the hand of your 
daughter for whichever of us may seem good to 
you and to her. As I have but four wives and 
Brother Drebber here has seven, it appears to me 
that my claim is the stronger one." 

"Nay, nay, Brother Stangerson," cried the other; 
"the question is not how many wives we have, but 
how many we can keep. My father has now given 
over his mills to me, and I am the richer man." 

"But my prospects are better," said the other, 
warmly. "When the Lord removes my father, I 
shall have his tanning yard and his leather fac- 
tory. Then I am your elder, and am higher in the 
Church." 

"It will be for the maiden to decide," rejoined 
young Drebber, smirking at his own reflection in 
the glass. "We will leave it all to her decision." 

During this dialogue, John Ferrier had stood 
fuming in the doorway, hardly able to keep his 
riding-whip from the backs of his two visitors. 

"Look here," he said at last, striding up to 
them, "when my daughter summons you, you can 
come, but until then I don't want to see your faces 
again." 

The two young Mormons stared at him in 
amazement. In their eyes this competition between 



them for the maiden's hand was the highest of 
honours both to her and her father. 

"There are two ways out of the room," cried 
Ferrier; "there is the door, and there is the win- 
dow. Which do you care to use?" 

His brown face looked so savage, and his gaunt 
hands so threatening, that his visitors sprang to 
their feet and beat a hurried retreat. The old 
farmer followed them to the door. 

"Let me know when you have settled which it 
is to be," he said, sardonically. 

"You shall smart for this!" Stangerson cried, 
white with rage. "You have defied the Prophet and 
the Council of Four. You shall rue it to the end of 
your days." 

"The hand of the Lord shall be heavy upon 
you," cried young Drebber; "He will arise and 
smite you!" 

"Then I'll start the smiting," exclaimed Ferrier 
furiously, and would have rushed upstairs for his 
gun had not Lucy seized him by the arm and re- 
strained him. Before he could escape from her, the 
clatter of horses' hoofs told him that they were be- 
yond his reach. 

"The young canting rascals!" he exclaimed, 
wiping the perspiration from his forehead; "I 
would sooner see you in your grave, my girl, than 
the wife of either of them." 

"And so should I, father," she answered, with 
spirit; "but Jefferson will soon be here." 

"Yes. It will not be long before he comes. The 
sooner the better, for we do not know what their 
next move may be." 

It was, indeed, high time that someone capable 
of giving advice and help should come to the aid 
of the sturdy old farmer and his adopted daugh- 
ter. In the whole history of the settlement there 
had never been such a case of rank disobedience 
to the authority of the Elders. If minor errors were 
punished so sternly, what would be the fate of this 
arch rebel. Ferrier knew that his wealth and posi- 
tion would be of no avail to him. Others as well 
known and as rich as himself had been spirited 
away before now, and their goods given over to the 
Church. He was a brave man, but he trembled at 
the vague, shadowy terrors which hung over him. 
Any known danger he could face with a firm lip, 
but this suspense was unnerving. He concealed his 
fears from his daughter, however, and affected to 
make light of the whole matter, though she, with 
the keen eye of love, saw plainly that he was ill at 
ease. 



47 



A Study In Scarlet 



He expected that he would receive some mes- 
sage or remonstrance from Young as to his con- 
duct, and he was not mistaken, though it came in 
an unlooked-for manner. Upon rising next morn- 
ing he found, to his surprise, a small square of pa- 
per pinned on to the coverlet of his bed just over 
his chest. On it was printed, in bold straggling 
letters: — 

"Twenty-nine days are given you for amend- 
ment, and then — " 

The dash was more fear-inspiring than any 
threat could have been. How this warning came 
into his room puzzled John Ferrier sorely, for his 
servants slept in an outhouse, and the doors and 
windows had all been secured. He crumpled the 
paper up and said nothing to his daughter, but the 
incident struck a chill into his heart. The twenty- 
nine days were evidently the balance of the month 
which Young had promised. What strength or 
courage could avail against an enemy armed with 
such mysterious powers? The hand which fas- 
tened that pin might have struck him to the heart, 
and he could never have known who had slain 
him. 

Still more shaken was he next morning. They 
had sat down to their breakfast when Lucy with a 
cry of surprise pointed upwards. In the centre of 
the ceiling was scrawled, with a burned stick ap- 
parently, the number 28. To his daughter it was 
unintelligible, and he did not enlighten her. That 
night he sat up with his gun and kept watch and 
ward. He saw and he heard nothing, and yet in 
the morning a great 27 had been painted upon the 
outside of his door. 

Thus day followed day; and as sure as morning 
came he found that his unseen enemies had kept 
their register, and had marked up in some con- 
spicuous position how many days were still left to 
him out of the month of grace. Sometimes the fa- 
tal numbers appeared upon the walls, sometimes 
upon the floors, occasionally they were on small 
placards stuck upon the garden gate or the rail- 
ings. With all his vigilance John Ferrier could not 
discover whence these daily warnings proceeded. 
A horror which was almost superstitious came 
upon him at the sight of them. He became hag- 
gard and restless, and his eyes had the troubled 
look of some hunted creature. He had but one 
hope in life now, and that was for the arrival of the 
young hunter from Nevada. 

Twenty had changed to fifteen and fifteen to 
ten, but there was no news of the absentee. One by 
one the numbers dwindled down, and still there 



came no sign of him. Whenever a horseman clat- 
tered down the road, or a driver shouted at his 
team, the old farmer hurried to the gate think- 
ing that help had arrived at last. At last, when 
he saw five give way to four and that again to 
three, he lost heart, and abandoned all hope of es- 
cape. Single-handed, and with his limited knowl- 
edge of the mountains which surrounded the set- 
tlement, he knew that he was powerless. The 
more-frequented roads were strictly watched and 
guarded, and none could pass along them with- 
out an order from the Council. Turn which way he 
would, there appeared to be no avoiding the blow 
which hung over him. Yet the old man never wa- 
vered in his resolution to part with life itself before 
he consented to what he regarded as his daugh- 
ter's dishonour. 

He was sitting alone one evening pondering 
deeply over his troubles, and searching vainly for 
some way out of them. That morning had shown 
the figure 2 upon the wall of his house, and the 
next day would be the last of the allotted time. 
What was to happen then? All manner of vague 
and terrible fancies filled his imagination. And his 
daughter — what was to become of her after he was 
gone? Was there no escape from the invisible net- 
work which was drawn all round them. He sank 
his head upon the table and sobbed at the thought 
of his own impotence. 

What was that? In the silence he heard a gen- 
tle scratching sound — low, but very distinct in the 
quiet of the night. It came from the door of the 
house. Ferrier crept into the hall and listened in- 
tently. There was a pause for a few moments, and 
then the low insidious sound was repeated. Some- 
one was evidently tapping very gently upon one of 
the panels of the door. Was it some midnight as- 
sassin who had come to carry out the murderous 
orders of the secret tribunal? Or was it some agent 
who was marking up that the last day of grace had 
arrived. John Ferrier felt that instant death would 
be better than the suspense which shook his nerves 
and chilled his heart. Springing forward he drew 
the bolt and threw the door open. 

Outside all was calm and quiet. The night 
was fine, and the stars were twinkling brightly 
overhead. The little front garden lay before the 
farmer's eyes bounded by the fence and gate, but 
neither there nor on the road was any human be- 
ing to be seen. With a sigh of relief, Ferrier looked 
to right and to left, until happening to glance 
straight down at his own feet he saw to his aston- 
ishment a man lying flat upon his face upon the 
ground, with arms and legs all asprawl. 



48 



A Study In Scarlet 



So unnerved was he at the sight that he leaned 
up against the wall with his hand to his throat to 
stifle his inclination to call out. His first thought 
was that the prostrate figure was that of some 
wounded or dying man, but as he watched it he 
saw it writhe along the ground and into the hall 
with the rapidity and noiselessness of a serpent. 
Once within the house the man sprang to his feet, 
closed the door, and revealed to the astonished 
farmer the fierce face and resolute expression of 
Jefferson Hope. 

"Good God!" gasped John Ferrier. "How you 
scared me! Whatever made you come in like that." 

"Give me food," the other said, hoarsely. "I 
have had no time for bite or sup for eight-and-forty 
hours." He flung himself upon the cold meat and 
bread which were still lying upon the table from 
his host's supper, and devoured it voraciously. 
"Does Lucy bear up well?" he asked, when he had 
satisfied his hunger. 

"Yes. She does not know the danger," her fa- 
ther answered. 

"That is well. The house is watched on every 
side. That is why I crawled my way up to it. They 
may be darned sharp, but they're not quite sharp 
enough to catch a Washoe hunter." 

John Ferrier felt a different man now that he 
realized that he had a devoted ally. He seized the 
young man's leathery hand and wrung it cordially. 
"You're a man to be proud of," he said. "There are 
not many who would come to share our danger 
and our troubles." 

"You've hit it there, pard," the young hunter 
answered. "I have a respect for you, but if you 
were alone in this business I'd think twice before 
I put my head into such a hornet's nest. It's Lucy 
that brings me here, and before harm comes on her 
I guess there will be one less o' the Hope family in 
Utah." 

"What are we to do?" 

"To-morrow is your last day, and unless you 
act to-night you are lost. I have a mule and two 
horses waiting in the Eagle Ravine. How much 
money have you?" 

"Two thousand dollars in gold, and five in 
notes." 

"That will do. I have as much more to add to it. 
We must push for Carson City through the moun- 
tains. You had best wake Lucy. It is as well that 
the servants do not sleep in the house." 

While Ferrier was absent, preparing his daugh- 
ter for the approaching journey, Jefferson Hope 



packed all the eatables that he could find into a 
small parcel, and filled a stoneware jar with wa- 
ter, for he knew by experience that the mountain 
wells were few and far between. He had hardly 
completed his arrangements before the farmer re- 
turned with his daughter all dressed and ready for 
a start. The greeting between the lovers was warm, 
but brief, for minutes were precious, and there was 
much to be done. 

"We must make our start at once," said Jeffer- 
son Hope, speaking in a low but resolute voice, 
like one who realizes the greatness of the peril, 
but has steeled his heart to meet it. "The front 
and back entrances are watched, but with caution 
we may get away through the side window and 
across the fields. Once on the road we are only two 
miles from the Ravine where the horses are wait- 
ing. By daybreak we should be half-way through 
the mountains." 

"What if we are stopped," asked Ferrier. 

Hope slapped the revolver butt which pro- 
truded from the front of his tunic. "If they are 
too many for us we shall take two or three of them 
with us," he said with a sinister smile. 

The lights inside the house had all been extin- 
guished, and from the darkened window Ferrier 
peered over the fields which had been his own, 
and which he was now about to abandon for ever. 
He had long nerved himself to the sacrifice, how- 
ever, and the thought of the honour and happiness 
of his daughter outweighed any regret at his ru- 
ined fortunes. All looked so peaceful and happy, 
the rustling trees and the broad silent stretch of 
grain-land, that it was difficult to realize that the 
spirit of murder lurked through it all. Yet the 
white face and set expression of the young hunter 
showed that in his approach to the house he had 
seen enough to satisfy him upon that head. 

Ferrier carried the bag of gold and notes, Jef- 
ferson Hope had the scanty provisions and water, 
while Lucy had a small bundle containing a few 
of her more valued possessions. Opening the win- 
dow very slowly and carefully, they waited until a 
dark cloud had somewhat obscured the night, and 
then one by one passed through into the little gar- 
den. With bated breath and crouching figures they 
stumbled across it, and gained the shelter of the 
hedge, which they skirted until they came to the 
gap which opened into the cornfields. They had 
just reached this point when the young man seized 
his two companions and dragged them down into 
the shadow, where they lay silent and trembling. 

It was as well that his prairie training had 
given Jefferson Hope the ears of a lynx. He and 



49 



A Study In Scarlet 



his friends had hardly crouched down before the 
melancholy hooting of a mountain owl was heard 
within a few yards of them, which was imme- 
diately answered by another hoot at a small dis- 
tance. At the same moment a vague shadowy fig- 
ure emerged from the gap for which they had been 
making, and uttered the plaintive signal cry again, 
on which a second man appeared out of the ob- 
scurity. 

"To-morrow at midnight," said the first who 
appeared to be in authority. "When the Whip- 
poor- Will calls three times." 

"It is well," returned the other. "Shall I tell 
Brother Drebber?" 

"Pass it on to him, and from him to the others. 
Nine to seven!" 

"Seven to five!" repeated the other, and the two 
figures flitted away in different directions. Their 
concluding words had evidently been some form 
of sign and countersign. The instant that their 
footsteps had died away in the distance, Jeffer- 
son Hope sprang to his feet, and helping his com- 
panions through the gap, led the way across the 
fields at the top of his speed, supporting and half- 
carrying the girl when her strength appeared to 
fail her. 

"Hurry on! hurry on!" he gasped from time to 
time. "We are through the line of sentinels. Every- 
thing depends on speed. Hurry on!" 

Once on the high road they made rapid 
progress. Only once did they meet anyone, and 
then they managed to slip into a field, and so avoid 
recognition. Before reaching the town the hunter 
branched away into a rugged and narrow foot- 
path which led to the mountains. Two dark jagged 
peaks loomed above them through the darkness, 
and the defile which led between them was the Ea- 
gle Canon in which the horses were awaiting them. 
With unerring instinct Jefferson Hope picked his 
way among the great boulders and along the bed 
of a dried-up watercourse, until he came to the re- 
tired corner, screened with rocks, where the faith- 
ful animals had been picketed. The girl was placed 
upon the mule, and old Ferrier upon one of the 
horses, with his money-bag, while Jefferson Hope 
led the other along the precipitous and dangerous 
path. 



It was a bewildering route for anyone who 
was not accustomed to face Nature in her wildest 
moods. On the one side a great crag towered up 
a thousand feet or more, black, stern, and menac- 
ing, with long basaltic columns upon its rugged 
surface like the ribs of some petrified monster. On 
the other hand a wild chaos of boulders and debris 
made all advance impossible. Between the two ran 
the irregular track, so narrow in places that they 
had to travel in Indian file, and so rough that only 
practised riders could have traversed it at all. Yet 
in spite of all dangers and difficulties, the hearts 
of the fugitives were light within them, for every 
step increased the distance between them and the 
terrible despotism from which they were flying. 

They soon had a proof, however, that they were 
still within the jurisdiction of the Saints. They 
had reached the very wildest and most desolate 
portion of the pass when the girl gave a star- 
tled cry, and pointed upwards. On a rock which 
overlooked the track, showing out dark and plain 
against the sky, there stood a solitary sentinel. 
He saw them as soon as they perceived him, and 
his military challenge of "Who goes there?" rang 
through the silent ravine. 

"Travellers for Nevada," said Jefferson Hope, 
with his hand upon the rifle which hung by his 
saddle. 

They could see the lonely watcher fingering his 
gun, and peering down at them as if dissatisfied at 
their reply. 

"By whose permission?" he asked. 

"The Holy Four," answered Ferrier. His Mor- 
mon experiences had taught him that that was the 
highest authority to which he could refer. 

"Nine from seven," cried the sentinel. 

"Seven from five," returned Jefferson Hope 
promptly, remembering the countersign which he 
had heard in the garden. 

"Pass, and the Lord go with you," said the 
voice from above. Beyond his post the path broad- 
ened out, and the horses were able to break into 
a trot. Looking back, they could see the solitary 
watcher leaning upon his gun, and knew that they 
had passed the outlying post of the chosen people, 
and that freedom lay before them. 



50 



A Study In Scarlet 



CHAPTER V. 

The Avenging Angels 



All night their course lay through intricate 
defiles and over irregular and rock-strewn paths. 
More than once they lost their way, but Hope's in- 
timate knowledge of the mountains enabled them 
to regain the track once more. When morning 
broke, a scene of marvellous though savage beauty 
lay before them. In every direction the great snow- 
capped peaks hemmed them in, peeping over each 
other's shoulders to the far horizon. So steep were 
the rocky banks on either side of them, that the 
larch and the pine seemed to be suspended over 
their heads, and to need only a gust of wind to 
come hurtling down upon them. Nor was the 
fear entirely an illusion, for the barren valley was 
thickly strewn with trees and boulders which had 
fallen in a similar manner. Even as they passed, 
a great rock came thundering down with a hoarse 
rattle which woke the echoes in the silent gorges, 
and startled the weary horses into a gallop. 

As the sun rose slowly above the eastern hori- 
zon, the caps of the great mountains lit up one 
after the other, like lamps at a festival, until they 
were all ruddy and glowing. The magnificent 
spectacle cheered the hearts of the three fugitives 
and gave them fresh energy. At a wild torrent 
which swept out of a ravine they called a halt and 
watered their horses, while they partook of a hasty 
breakfast. Lucy and her father would fain have 
rested longer, but Jefferson Hope was inexorable. 
"They will be upon our track by this time," he said. 
"Everything depends upon our speed. Once safe 
in Carson we may rest for the remainder of our 
lives." 

During the whole of that day they struggled 
on through the defiles, and by evening they calcu- 
lated that they were more than thirty miles from 
their enemies. At night-time they chose the base 
of a beetling crag, where the rocks offered some 
protection from the chill wind, and there huddled 
together for warmth, they enjoyed a few hours' 
sleep. Before daybreak, however, they were up and 
on their way once more. They had seen no signs 
of any pursuers, and Jefferson Hope began to think 
that they were fairly out of the reach of the terri- 
ble organization whose enmity they had incurred. 
He little knew how far that iron grasp could reach, 
or how soon it was to close upon them and crush 
them. 

About the middle of the second day of their 
flight their scanty store of provisions began to run 



out. This gave the hunter little uneasiness, how- 
ever, for there was game to be had among the 
mountains, and he had frequently before had to 
depend upon his rifle for the needs of life. Choos- 
ing a sheltered nook, he piled together a few 
dried branches and made a blazing fire, at which 
his companions might warm themselves, for they 
were now nearly five thousand feet above the sea 
level, and the air was bitter and keen. Having teth- 
ered the horses, and bade Lucy adieu, he threw 
his gun over his shoulder, and set out in search of 
whatever chance might throw in his way. Look- 
ing back he saw the old man and the young girl 
crouching over the blazing fire, while the three an- 
imals stood motionless in the back-ground. Then 
the intervening rocks hid them from his view. 

He walked for a couple of miles through one 
ravine after another without success, though from 
the marks upon the bark of the trees, and other 
indications, he judged that there were numerous 
bears in the vicinity. At last, after two or three 
hours' fruitless search, he was thinking of turning 
back in despair, when casting his eyes upwards he 
saw a sight which sent a thrill of pleasure through 
his heart. On the edge of a jutting pinnacle, three 
or four hundred feet above him, there stood a crea- 
ture somewhat resembling a sheep in appearance, 
but armed with a pair of gigantic horns. The big- 
horn — for so it is called — was acting, probably, as 
a guardian over a flock which were invisible to the 
hunter; but fortunately it was heading in the oppo- 
site direction, and had not perceived him. Lying 
on his face, he rested his rifle upon a rock, and 
took a long and steady aim before drawing the 
trigger. The animal sprang into the air, tottered 
for a moment upon the edge of the precipice, and 
then came crashing down into the valley beneath. 

The creature was too unwieldy to lift, so the 
hunter contented himself with cutting away one 
haunch and part of the flank. With this trophy 
over his shoulder, he hastened to retrace his steps, 
for the evening was already drawing in. He had 
hardly started, however, before he realized the dif- 
ficulty which faced him. In his eagerness he had 
wandered far past the ravines which were known 
to him, and it was no easy matter to pick out the 
path which he had taken. The valley in which he 
found himself divided and sub-divided into many 
gorges, which were so like each other that it was 
impossible to distinguish one from the other. He 
followed one for a mile or more until he came to 



5i 



A Study In Scarlet 



a mountain torrent which he was sure that he had 
never seen before. Convinced that he had taken 
the wrong turn, he tried another, but with the 
same result. Night was coming on rapidly, and 
it was almost dark before he at last found him- 
self in a defile which was familiar to him. Even 
then it was no easy matter to keep to the right 
track, for the moon had not yet risen, and the high 
cliffs on either side made the obscurity more pro- 
found. Weighed down with his burden, and weary 
from his exertions, he stumbled along, keeping up 
his heart by the reflection that every step brought 
him nearer to Lucy, and that he carried with him 
enough to ensure them food for the remainder of 
their journey. 

He had now come to the mouth of the very 
defile in which he had left them. Even in the dark- 
ness he could recognize the outline of the cliffs 
which bounded it. They must, he reflected, be 
awaiting him anxiously, for he had been absent 
nearly five hours. In the gladness of his heart he 
put his hands to his mouth and made the glen 
re-echo to a loud halloo as a signal that he was 
coming. He paused and listened for an answer. 
None came save his own cry, which clattered up 
the dreary silent ravines, and was borne back to 
his ears in countless repetitions. Again he shouted, 
even louder than before, and again no whisper 
came back from the friends whom he had left 
such a short time ago. A vague, nameless dread 
came over him, and he hurried onwards frantically, 
dropping the precious food in his agitation. 

When he turned the corner, he came full in 
sight of the spot where the fire had been lit. There 
was still a glowing pile of wood ashes there, but it 
had evidently not been tended since his departure. 
The same dead silence still reigned all round. With 
his fears all changed to convictions, he hurried on. 
There was no living creature near the remains of 
the fire: animals, man, maiden, all were gone. It 
was only too clear that some sudden and terrible 
disaster had occurred during his absence — a disas- 
ter which had embraced them all, and yet had left 
no traces behind it. 

Bewildered and stunned by this blow, Jeffer- 
son Hope felt his head spin round, and had to 
lean upon his rifle to save himself from falling. 
He was essentially a man of action, however, and 
speedily recovered from his temporary impotence. 
Seizing a half-consumed piece of wood from the 
smouldering fire, he blew it into a flame, and pro- 
ceeded with its help to examine the little camp. 
The ground was all stamped down by the feet 
of horses, showing that a large party of mounted 



men had overtaken the fugitives, and the direction 
of their tracks proved that they had afterwards 
turned back to Salt Lake City. Had they carried 
back both of his companions with them? Jeffer- 
son Hope had almost persuaded himself that they 
must have done so, when his eye fell upon an ob- 
ject which made every nerve of his body tingle 
within him. A little way on one side of the camp 
was a low-lying heap of reddish soil, which had 
assuredly not been there before. There was no mis- 
taking it for anything but a newly-dug grave. As 
the young hunter approached it, he perceived that 
a stick had been planted on it, with a sheet of pa- 
per stuck in the cleft fork of it. The inscription 
upon the paper was brief, but to the point: 

JOHN FERRIER, 
Formerly of Salt Lake City, 
Died August 4th, i860. 
The sturdy old man, whom he had left so short 
a time before, was gone, then, and this was all 
his epitaph. Jefferson Hope looked wildly round 
to see if there was a second grave, but there was 
no sign of one. Lucy had been carried back by 
their terrible pursuers to fulfil her original destiny, 
by becoming one of the harem of the Elder's son. 
As the young fellow realized the certainty of her 
fate, and his own powerlessness to prevent it, he 
wished that he, too, was lying with the old farmer 
in his last silent resting-place. 

Again, however, his active spirit shook off the 
lethargy which springs from despair. If there was 
nothing else left to him, he could at least devote 
his life to revenge. With indomitable patience 
and perseverance, Jefferson Hope possessed also a 
power of sustained vindictiveness, which he may 
have learned from the Indians amongst whom he 
had lived. As he stood by the desolate fire, he 
felt that the only one thing which could assuage 
his grief would be thorough and complete retri- 
bution, brought by his own hand upon his ene- 
mies. His strong will and untiring energy should, 
he determined, be devoted to that one end. With 
a grim, white face, he retraced his steps to where 
he had dropped the food, and having stirred up 
the smouldering fire, he cooked enough to last 
him for a few days. This he made up into a bun- 
dle, and, tired as he was, he set himself to walk 
back through the mountains upon the track of the 
avenging angels. 

For five days he toiled footsore and weary 
through the defiles which he had already traversed 
on horseback. At night he flung himself down 
among the rocks, and snatched a few hours of 
sleep; but before daybreak he was always well on 



52 



A Study In Scarlet 



his way. On the sixth day, he reached the Eagle 
Canon, from which they had commenced their ill- 
fated flight. Thence he could look down upon 
the home of the saints. Worn and exhausted, he 
leaned upon his rifle and shook his gaunt hand 
fiercely at the silent widespread city beneath him. 
As he looked at it, he observed that there were 
flags in some of the principal streets, and other 
signs of festivity. He was still speculating as to 
what this might mean when he heard the clatter 
of horse's hoofs, and saw a mounted man riding 
towards him. As he approached, he recognized 
him as a Mormon named Cowper, to whom he 
had rendered services at different times. He there- 
fore accosted him when he got up to him, with the 
object of finding out what Lucy Ferrier's fate had 
been. 

"I am Jefferson Hope," he said. "You remem- 
ber me." 

The Mormon looked at him with undisguised 
astonishment — indeed, it was difficult to recognize 
in this tattered, unkempt wanderer, with ghastly 
white face and fierce, wild eyes, the spruce young 
hunter of former days. Having, however, at last, 
satisfied himself as to his identity, the man's sur- 
prise changed to consternation. 

"You are mad to come here," he cried. "It is as 
much as my own life is worth to be seen talking 
with you. There is a warrant against you from the 
Holy Four for assisting the Ferriers away." 

"I don't fear them, or their warrant," Hope 
said, earnestly. "You must know something of this 
matter, Cowper. I conjure you by everything you 
hold dear to answer a few questions. We have al- 
ways been friends. For God's sake, don't refuse to 
answer me." 

"What is it?" the Mormon asked uneasily "Be 
quick. The very rocks have ears and the trees 
eyes." 

"What has become of Lucy Ferrier?" 

"She was married yesterday to young Drebber. 
Hold up, man, hold up, you have no life left in 
you." 

"Don't mind me," said Hope faintly. He was 
white to the very lips, and had sunk down on the 
stone against which he had been leaning. "Mar- 
ried, you say?" 

"Married yesterday — that's what those flags 
are for on the Endowment House. There was some 
words between young Drebber and young Stanger- 
son as to which was to have her. They'd both been 
in the party that followed them, and Stangerson 
had shot her father, which seemed to give him the 



best claim; but when they argued it out in council, 
Drebber 's party was the stronger, so the Prophet 
gave her over to him. No one won't have her very 
long though, for I saw death in her face yesterday. 
She is more like a ghost than a woman. Are you 
off, then?" 

"Yes, I am off," said Jefferson Hope, who had 
risen from his seat. His face might have been chis- 
elled out of marble, so hard and set was its expres- 
sion, while its eyes glowed with a baleful light. 

"Where are you going?" 

"Never mind," he answered; and, slinging his 
weapon over his shoulder, strode off down the 
gorge and so away into the heart of the mountains 
to the haunts of the wild beasts. Amongst them 
all there was none so fierce and so dangerous as 
himself. 

The prediction of the Mormon was only too 
well fulfilled. Whether it was the terrible death 
of her father or the effects of the hateful marriage 
into which she had been forced, poor Lucy never 
held up her head again, but pined away and died 
within a month. Her sottish husband, who had 
married her principally for the sake of John Fer- 
rier 's property, did not affect any great grief at his 
bereavement; but his other wives mourned over 
her, and sat up with her the night before the burial, 
as is the Mormon custom. They were grouped 
round the bier in the early hours of the morn- 
ing, when, to their inexpressible fear and aston- 
ishment, the door was flung open, and a savage- 
looking, weather-beaten man in tattered garments 
strode into the room. Without a glance or a word 
to the cowering women, he walked up to the white 
silent figure which had once contained the pure 
soul of Lucy Ferrier. Stooping over her, he pressed 
his lips reverently to her cold forehead, and then, 
snatching up her hand, he took the wedding-ring 
from her finger. "She shall not be buried in that," 
he cried with a fierce snarl, and before an alarm 
could be raised sprang down the stairs and was 
gone. So strange and so brief was the episode, that 
the watchers might have found it hard to believe it 
themselves or persuade other people of it, had it 
not been for the undeniable fact that the circlet of 
gold which marked her as having been a bride had 
disappeared. 

For some months Jefferson Hope lingered 
among the mountains, leading a strange wild 
life, and nursing in his heart the fierce desire for 
vengeance which possessed him. Tales were told 
in the City of the weird figure which was seen 
prowling about the suburbs, and which haunted 
the lonely mountain gorges. Once a bullet whis- 
tled through Stangerson's window and flattened 



53 



A Study In Scarlet 



itself upon the wall within a foot of him. On an- 
other occasion, as Drebber passed under a cliff a 
great boulder crashed down on him, and he only 
escaped a terrible death by throwing himself upon 
his face. The two young Mormons were not long 
in discovering the reason of these attempts upon 
their lives, and led repeated expeditions into the 
mountains in the hope of capturing or killing their 
enemy, but always without success. Then they 
adopted the precaution of never going out alone or 
after nightfall, and of having their houses guarded. 
After a time they were able to relax these mea- 
sures, for nothing was either heard or seen of their 
opponent, and they hoped that time had cooled 
his vindictiveness. 

Far from doing so, it had, if anything, aug- 
mented it. The hunter's mind was of a hard, un- 
yielding nature, and the predominant idea of re- 
venge had taken such complete possession of it 
that there was no room for any other emotion. He 
was, however, above all things practical. He soon 
realized that even his iron constitution could not 
stand the incessant strain which he was putting 
upon it. Exposure and want of wholesome food 
were wearing him out. If he died like a dog among 
the mountains, what was to become of his revenge 
then? And yet such a death was sure to overtake 
him if he persisted. He felt that that was to play 
his enemy's game, so he reluctantly returned to the 
old Nevada mines, there to recruit his health and 
to amass money enough to allow him to pursue 
his object without privation. 

His intention had been to be absent a year at 
the most, but a combination of unforeseen circum- 
stances prevented his leaving the mines for nearly 
five. At the end of that time, however, his memory 
of his wrongs and his craving for revenge were 
quite as keen as on that memorable night when 
he had stood by John Ferrier's grave. Disguised, 
and under an assumed name, he returned to Salt 
Lake City, careless what became of his own life, as 
long as he obtained what he knew to be justice. 
There he found evil tidings awaiting him. There 
had been a schism among the Chosen People a few 
months before, some of the younger members of 
the Church having rebelled against the authority 
of the Elders, and the result had been the secession 
of a certain number of the malcontents, who had 
left Utah and become Gentiles. Among these had 
been Drebber and Stangerson; and no one knew 
whither they had gone. Rumour reported that 
Drebber had managed to convert a large part of 



his property into money, and that he had departed 
a wealthy man, while his companion, Stangerson, 
was comparatively poor. There was no clue at all, 
however, as to their whereabouts. 

Many a man, however vindictive, would have 
abandoned all thought of revenge in the face of 
such a difficulty, but Jefferson Hope never faltered 
for a moment. With the small competence he pos- 
sessed, eked out by such employment as he could 
pick up, he travelled from town to town through 
the United States in quest of his enemies. Year 
passed into year, his black hair turned grizzled, 
but still he wandered on, a human bloodhound, 
with his mind wholly set upon the one object upon 
which he had devoted his life. At last his per- 
severance was rewarded. It was but a glance of 
a face in a window, but that one glance told him 
that Cleveland in Ohio possessed the men whom 
he was in pursuit of. He returned to his miser- 
able lodgings with his plan of vengeance all ar- 
ranged. It chanced, however, that Drebber, look- 
ing from his window, had recognized the vagrant 
in the street, and had read murder in his eyes. He 
hurried before a justice of the peace, accompanied 
by Stangerson, who had become his private secre- 
tary, and represented to him that they were in dan- 
ger of their lives from the jealousy and hatred of an 
old rival. That evening Jefferson Hope was taken 
into custody, and not being able to find sureties, 
was detained for some weeks. When at last he was 
liberated, it was only to find that Drebber 's house 
was deserted, and that he and his secretary had 
departed for Europe. 

Again the avenger had been foiled, and again 
his concentrated hatred urged him to continue the 
pursuit. Funds were wanting, however, and for 
some time he had to return to work, saving every 
dollar for his approaching journey. At last, hav- 
ing collected enough to keep life in him, he de- 
parted for Europe, and tracked his enemies from 
city to city, working his way in any menial capac- 
ity, but never overtaking the fugitives. When he 
reached St. Petersburg they had departed for Paris; 
and when he followed them there he learned that 
they had just set off for Copenhagen. At the Dan- 
ish capital he was again a few days late, for they 
had journeyed on to London, where he at last suc- 
ceeded in running them to earth. As to what oc- 
curred there, we cannot do better than quote the 
old hunter's own account, as duly recorded in Dr. 
Watson's Journal, to which we are already under 
such obligations. 



54 



A Study In Scarlet 



CHAPTER VI. 

A Continuation Of The Reminiscences Of John Watson, M.D. 



Our prisoner's furious resistance did not 
apparently indicate any ferocity in his disposition 
towards ourselves, for on finding himself power- 
less, he smiled in an affable manner, and expressed 
his hopes that he had not hurt any of us in the 
scuffle. "I guess you're going to take me to the 
police-station," he remarked to Sherlock Holmes. 
"My cab's at the door. If you'll loose my legs I'll 
walk down to it. I'm not so light to lift as I used to 
be." 

Gregson and Lestrade exchanged glances as if 
they thought this proposition rather a bold one; 
but Holmes at once took the prisoner at his word, 
and loosened the towel which we had bound 
round his ankles. He rose and stretched his legs, as 
though to assure himself that they were free once 
more. I remember that I thought to myself, as I 
eyed him, that I had seldom seen a more power- 
fully built man; and his dark sunburned face bore 
an expression of determination and energy which 
was as formidable as his personal strength. 

"If there's a vacant place for a chief of the po- 
lice, I reckon you are the man for it," he said, 
gazing with undisguised admiration at my fellow- 
lodger. "The way you kept on my trail was a cau- 
tion." 

"You had better come with me," said Holmes 
to the two detectives. 

"I can drive you," said Lestrade. 

"Good! and Gregson can come inside with me. 
You too, Doctor, you have taken an interest in the 
case and may as well stick to us." 

I assented gladly, and we all descended to- 
gether. Our prisoner made no attempt at escape, 
but stepped calmly into the cab which had been 
his, and we followed him. Lestrade mounted the 
box, whipped up the horse, and brought us in a 
very short time to our destination. We were ush- 
ered into a small chamber where a police Inspector 
noted down our prisoner's name and the names of 
the men with whose murder he had been charged. 
The official was a white-faced unemotional man, 
who went through his duties in a dull mechanical 
way. "The prisoner will be put before the mag- 
istrates in the course of the week," he said; "in 
the mean time, Mr. Jefferson Hope, have you any- 
thing that you wish to say? I must warn you that 
your words will be taken down, and may be used 
against you." 



"I've got a good deal to say," our prisoner said 
slowly. "I want to tell you gentlemen all about it." 

"Hadn't you better reserve that for your trial?" 
asked the Inspector. 

"I may never be tried," he answered. "You 
needn't look startled. It isn't suicide I am think- 
ing of. Are you a Doctor?" He turned his fierce 
dark eyes upon me as he asked this last question. 

"Yes; I am," I answered. 

"Then put your hand here," he said, with a 
smile, motioning with his manacled wrists to- 
wards his chest. 

I did so; and became at once conscious of an ex- 
traordinary throbbing and commotion which was 
going on inside. The walls of his chest seemed to 
thrill and quiver as a frail building would do inside 
when some powerful engine was at work. In the 
silence of the room I could hear a dull humming 
and buzzing noise which proceeded from the same 
source. 

"Why," I cried, "you have an aortic aneurism!" 

"That's what they call it," he said, placidly. "I 
went to a Doctor last week about it, and he told me 
that it is bound to burst before many days passed. 
It has been getting worse for years. I got it from 
over-exposure and under-feeding among the Salt 
Lake Mountains. I've done my work now, and I 
don't care how soon I go, but I should like to leave 
some account of the business behind me. I don't 
want to be remembered as a common cut-throat." 

The Inspector and the two detectives had a hur- 
ried discussion as to the advisability of allowing 
him to tell his story. 

"Do you consider, Doctor, that there is imme- 
diate danger?" the former asked. 

"Most certainly there is," I answered. 

"In that case it is clearly our duty, in the in- 
terests of justice, to take his statement," said the 
Inspector. "You are at liberty, sir, to give your 
account, which I again warn you will be taken 
down." 

"I'll sit down, with your leave," the pris- 
oner said, suiting the action to the word. "This 
aneurism of mine makes me easily tired, and the 
tussle we had half an hour ago has not mended 
matters. I'm on the brink of the grave, and I am 
not likely to lie to you. Every word I say is the ab- 
solute truth, and how you use it is a matter of no 
consequence to me." 



55 



A Study In Scarlet 



With these words, Jefferson Hope leaned back 
in his chair and began the following remarkable 
statement. He spoke in a calm and methodical 
manner, as though the events which he narrated 
were commonplace enough. I can vouch for the 
accuracy of the subjoined account, for I have had 
access to Lestrade's note-book, in which the pris- 
oner's words were taken down exactly as they 
were uttered. 

"It don't much matter to you why I hated these 
men," he said; "it's enough that they were guilty 
of the death of two human beings — a father and a 
daughter — and that they had, therefore, forfeited 
their own lives. After the lapse of time that has 
passed since their crime, it was impossible for me 
to secure a conviction against them in any court. I 
knew of their guilt though, and I determined that 
I should be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled 
into one. You'd have done the same, if you have 
any manhood in you, if you had been in my place. 

"That girl that I spoke of was to have married 
me twenty years ago. She was forced into marry- 
ing that same Drebber, and broke her heart over it. 
I took the marriage ring from her dead finger, and 
I vowed that his dying eyes should rest upon that 
very ring, and that his last thoughts should be of 
the crime for which he was punished. I have car- 
ried it about with me, and have followed him and 
his accomplice over two continents until I caught 
them. They thought to tire me out, but they could 
not do it. If I die to-morrow, as is likely enough, 
I die knowing that my work in this world is done, 
and well done. They have perished, and by my 
hand. There is nothing left for me to hope for, or 
to desire. 

"They were rich and I was poor, so that it was 
no easy matter for me to follow them. When I 
got to London my pocket was about empty, and I 
found that I must turn my hand to something for 
my living. Driving and riding are as natural to me 
as walking, so I applied at a cabowner 's office, and 
soon got employment. I was to bring a certain sum 
a week to the owner, and whatever was over that 
I might keep for myself. There was seldom much 
over, but I managed to scrape along somehow. The 
hardest job was to learn my way about, for I reckon 
that of all the mazes that ever were contrived, this 
city is the most confusing. I had a map beside me 
though, and when once I had spotted the principal 
hotels and stations, I got on pretty well. 

"It was some time before I found out where my 
two gentlemen were living; but I inquired and in- 
quired until at last I dropped across them. They 
were at a boarding-house at Camberwell, over on 



the other side of the river. When once I found 
them out I knew that I had them at my mercy. 
I had grown my beard, and there was no chance 
of their recognizing me. I would dog them and 
follow them until I saw my opportunity. I was de- 
termined that they should not escape me again. 

"They were very near doing it for all that. Go 
where they would about London, I was always at 
their heels. Sometimes I followed them on my cab, 
and sometimes on foot, but the former was the 
best, for then they could not get away from me. It 
was only early in the morning or late at night that 
I could earn anything, so that I began to get be- 
hind hand with my employer. I did not mind that, 
however, as long as I could lay my hand upon the 
men I wanted. 

"They were very cunning, though. They must 
have thought that there was some chance of their 
being followed, for they would never go out alone, 
and never after nightfall. During two weeks I 
drove behind them every day, and never once saw 
them separate. Drebber himself was drunk half 
the time, but Stangerson was not to be caught nap- 
ping. I watched them late and early, but never saw 
the ghost of a chance; but I was not discouraged, 
for something told me that the hour had almost 
come. My only fear was that this thing in my chest 
might burst a little too soon and leave my work 
undone. 

"At last, one evening I was driving up and 
down Torquay Terrace, as the street was called in 
which they boarded, when I saw a cab drive up to 
their door. Presently some luggage was brought 
out, and after a time Drebber and Stangerson fol- 
lowed it, and drove off. I whipped up my horse 
and kept within sight of them, feeling very ill at 
ease, for I feared that they were going to shift their 
quarters. At Euston Station they got out, and I left 
a boy to hold my horse, and followed them on to 
the platform. I heard them ask for the Liverpool 
train, and the guard answer that one had just gone 
and there would not be another for some hours. 
Stangerson seemed to be put out at that, but Dreb- 
ber was rather pleased than otherwise. I got so 
close to them in the bustle that I could hear every 
word that passed between them. Drebber said that 
he had a little business of his own to do, and that 
if the other would wait for him he would soon re- 
join him. His companion remonstrated with him, 
and reminded him that they had resolved to stick 
together. Drebber answered that the matter was a 
delicate one, and that he must go alone. I could not 
catch what Stangerson said to that, but the other 
burst out swearing, and reminded him that he was 



56 



A Study In Scarlet 



nothing more than his paid servant, and that he 
must not presume to dictate to him. On that the 
Secretary gave it up as a bad job, and simply bar- 
gained with him that if he missed the last train he 
should rejoin him at Halliday's Private Hotel; to 
which Drebber answered that he would be back 
on the platform before eleven, and made his way 
out of the station. 

"The moment for which I had waited so long 
had at last come. I had my enemies within my 
power. Together they could protect each other, 
but singly they were at my mercy. I did not 
act, however, with undue precipitation. My plans 
were already formed. There is no satisfaction in 
vengeance unless the offender has time to real- 
ize who it is that strikes him, and why retribu- 
tion has come upon him. I had my plans arranged 
by which I should have the opportunity of making 
the man who had wronged me understand that his 
old sin had found him out. It chanced that some 
days before a gentleman who had been engaged in 
looking over some houses in the Brixton Road had 
dropped the key of one of them in my carriage. 
It was claimed that same evening, and returned; 
but in the interval I had taken a moulding of it, 
and had a duplicate constructed. By means of this 
I had access to at least one spot in this great city 
where I could rely upon being free from interrup- 
tion. How to get Drebber to that house was the 
difficult problem which I had now to solve. 

"He walked down the road and went into one 
or two liquor shops, staying for nearly half-an- 
hour in the last of them. When he came out he 
staggered in his walk, and was evidently pretty 
well on. There was a hansom just in front of me, 
and he hailed it. I followed it so close that the 
nose of my horse was within a yard of his driver 
the whole way. We rattled across Waterloo Bridge 
and through miles of streets, until, to my astonish- 
ment, we found ourselves back in the Terrace in 
which he had boarded. I could not imagine what 
his intention was in returning there; but I went on 
and pulled up my cab a hundred yards or so from 
the house. He entered it, and his hansom drove 
away. Give me a glass of water, if you please. My 
mouth gets dry with the talking." 

I handed him the glass, and he drank it down. 

"That's better," he said. "Well, I waited for 
a quarter of an hour, or more, when suddenly 
there came a noise like people struggling inside 
the house. Next moment the door was flung open 
and two men appeared, one of whom was Drebber, 
and the other was a young chap whom I had never 
seen before. This fellow had Drebber by the collar, 



and when they came to the head of the steps he 
gave him a shove and a kick which sent him half 
across the road. 'You hound,' he cried, shaking 
his stick at him; 'I'll teach you to insult an honest 
girl!' He was so hot that I think he would have 
thrashed Drebber with his cudgel, only that the 
cur staggered away down the road as fast as his 
legs would carry him. He ran as far as the corner, 
and then, seeing my cab, he hailed me and jumped 
in. 'Drive me to Halliday's Private Hotel,' said he. 

"When I had him fairly inside my cab, my heart 
jumped so with joy that I feared lest at this last mo- 
ment my aneurism might go wrong. I drove along 
slowly, weighing in my own mind what it was best 
to do. I might take him right out into the country, 
and there in some deserted lane have my last in- 
terview with him. I had almost decided upon this, 
when he solved the problem for me. The craze for 
drink had seized him again, and he ordered me 
to pull up outside a gin palace. He went in, leav- 
ing word that I should wait for him. There he re- 
mained until closing time, and when he came out 
he was so far gone that I knew the game was in 
my own hands. 

"Don't imagine that I intended to kill him in 
cold blood. It would only have been rigid justice 
if I had done so, but I could not bring myself to 
do it. I had long determined that he should have 
a show for his life if he chose to take advantage 
of it. Among the many billets which I have filled 
in America during my wandering life, I was once 
janitor and sweeper out of the laboratory at York 
College. One day the professor was lecturing on 
poisons, and he showed his students some alka- 
loid, as he called it, which he had extracted from 
some South American arrow poison, and which 
was so powerful that the least grain meant instant 
death. I spotted the bottle in which this prepa- 
ration was kept, and when they were all gone, I 
helped myself to a little of it. I was a fairly good 
dispenser, so I worked this alkaloid into small, sol- 
uble pills, and each pill I put in a box with a sim- 
ilar pill made without the poison. I determined at 
the time that when I had my chance, my gentle- 
men should each have a draw out of one of these 
boxes, while I ate the pill that remained. It would 
be quite as deadly, and a good deal less noisy than 
firing across a handkerchief. From that day I had 
always my pill boxes about with me, and the time 
had now come when I was to use them. 

"It was nearer one than twelve, and a wild, 
bleak night, blowing hard and raining in torrents. 
Dismal as it was outside, I was glad within — so 
glad that I could have shouted out from pure exul- 
tation. If any of you gentlemen have ever pined for 



57 



A Study In Scarlet 



a thing, and longed for it during twenty long years, 
and then suddenly found it within your reach, you 
would understand my feelings. I lit a cigar, and 
puffed at it to steady my nerves, but my hands 
were trembling, and my temples throbbing with 
excitement. As I drove, I could see old John Ferrier 
and sweet Lucy looking at me out of the darkness 
and smiling at me, just as plain as I see you all in 
this room. All the way they were ahead of me, one 
on each side of the horse until I pulled up at the 
house in the Brixton Road. 

"There was not a soul to be seen, nor a sound to 
be heard, except the dripping of the rain. When I 
looked in at the window, I found Drebber all hud- 
dled together in a drunken sleep. I shook him by 
the arm, 'It's time to get out,' I said. 

" 'All right, cabby,' said he. 

"I suppose he thought we had come to the ho- 
tel that he had mentioned, for he got out without 
another word, and followed me down the garden. 
I had to walk beside him to keep him steady, for he 
was still a little top-heavy. When we came to the 
door, I opened it, and led him into the front room. 
I give you my word that all the way, the father and 
the daughter were walking in front of us. 

" 'It's infernally dark,' said he, stamping about. 

" 'We'll soon have a light,' I said, striking a 
match and putting it to a wax candle which I had 
brought with me. 'Now, Enoch Drebber,' I contin- 
ued, turning to him, and holding the light to my 
own face, 'who am I?' 

"He gazed at me with bleared, drunken eyes 
for a moment, and then I saw a horror spring up 
in them, and convulse his whole features, which 
showed me that he knew me. He staggered back 
with a livid face, and I saw the perspiration break 
out upon his brow, while his teeth chattered in his 
head. At the sight, I leaned my back against the 
door and laughed loud and long. I had always 
known that vengeance would be sweet, but I had 
never hoped for the contentment of soul which 
now possessed me. 

'"You dog!' I said; 'I have hunted you from 
Salt Lake City to St. Petersburg, and you have al- 
ways escaped me. Now, at last your wanderings 
have come to an end, for either you or I shall never 
see to-morrow's sun rise.' He shrunk still further 
away as I spoke, and I could see on his face that 
he thought I was mad. So I was for the time. The 
pulses in my temples beat like sledge-hammers, 
and I believe I would have had a fit of some sort 
if the blood had not gushed from my nose and re- 
lieved me. 



" 'What do you think of Lucy Ferrier now?' I 
cried, locking the door, and shaking the key in his 
face. 'Punishment has been slow in coming, but it 
has overtaken you at last.' I saw his coward lips 
tremble as I spoke. He would have begged for his 
life, but he knew well that it was useless. 

" 'Would you murder me?' he stammered. 

" 'There is no murder,' I answered. 'Who talks 
of murdering a mad dog? What mercy had you 
upon my poor darling, when you dragged her 
from her slaughtered father, and bore her away to 
your accursed and shameless harem.' 

" 'It was not I who killed her father,' he cried. 

" 'But it was you who broke her innocent heart,' 
I shrieked, thrusting the box before him. 'Let 
the high God judge between us. Choose and eat. 
There is death in one and life in the other. I shall 
take what you leave. Let us see if there is justice 
upon the earth, or if we are ruled by chance.' 

"He cowered away with wild cries and prayers 
for mercy, but I drew my knife and held it to his 
throat until he had obeyed me. Then I swallowed 
the other, and we stood facing one another in si- 
lence for a minute or more, waiting to see which 
was to live and which was to die. Shall I ever for- 
get the look which came over his face when the 
first warning pangs told him that the poison was 
in his system? I laughed as I saw it, and held 
Lucy's marriage ring in front of his eyes. It was 
but for a moment, for the action of the alkaloid 
is rapid. A spasm of pain contorted his features; 
he threw his hands out in front of him, staggered, 
and then, with a hoarse cry, fell heavily upon the 
floor. I turned him over with my foot, and placed 
my hand upon his heart. There was no movement. 
He was dead! 

"The blood had been streaming from my nose, 
but I had taken no notice of it. I don't know what 
it was that put it into my head to write upon the 
wall with it. Perhaps it was some mischievous idea 
of setting the police upon a wrong track, for I felt 
light-hearted and cheerful. I remembered a Ger- 
man being found in New York with RACHE writ- 
ten up above him, and it was argued at the time 
in the newspapers that the secret societies must 
have done it. I guessed that what puzzled the New 
Yorkers would puzzle the Londoners, so I dipped 
my finger in my own blood and printed it on a 
convenient place on the wall. Then I walked down 
to my cab and found that there was nobody about, 
and that the night was still very wild. I had driven 
some distance when I put my hand into the pocket 
in which I usually kept Lucy's ring, and found that 
it was not there. I was thunderstruck at this, for it 



58 



A Study In Scarlet 



was the only memento that I had of her. Thinking 
that I might have dropped it when I stooped over 
Drebber's body, I drove back, and leaving my cab 
in a side street, I went boldly up to the house — for 
I was ready to dare anything rather than lose the 
ring. When I arrived there, I walked right into 
the arms of a police-officer who was coming out, 
and only managed to disarm his suspicions by pre- 
tending to be hopelessly drunk. 

"That was how Enoch Drebber came to his end. 
All I had to do then was to do as much for Stanger- 
son, and so pay off John Ferrier's debt. I knew that 
he was staying at Halliday's Private Hotel, and I 
hung about all day, but he never came out. I fancy 
that he suspected something when Drebber failed 
to put in an appearance. He was cunning, was 
Stangerson, and always on his guard. If he thought 
he could keep me off by staying indoors he was 
very much mistaken. I soon found out which was 
the window of his bedroom, and early next morn- 
ing I took advantage of some ladders which were 
lying in the lane behind the hotel, and so made my 
way into his room in the grey of the dawn. I woke 
him up and told him that the hour had come when 
he was to answer for the life he had taken so long 
before. I described Drebber's death to him, and 
I gave him the same choice of the poisoned pills. 
Instead of grasping at the chance of safety which 
that offered him, he sprang from his bed and flew 
at my throat. In self-defence I stabbed him to the 
heart. It would have been the same in any case, for 
Providence would never have allowed his guilty 
hand to pick out anything but the poison. 

"I have little more to say, and it's as well, for 
I am about done up. I went on cabbing it for a 
day or so, intending to keep at it until I could save 
enough to take me back to America. I was stand- 
ing in the yard when a ragged youngster asked 
if there was a cabby there called Jefferson Hope, 



and said that his cab was wanted by a gentleman 
at 221B, Baker Street. I went round, suspecting no 
harm, and the next thing I knew, this young man 
here had the bracelets on my wrists, and as neatly 
snackled as ever I saw in my life. That's the whole 
of my story, gentlemen. You may consider me to 
be a murderer; but I hold that I am just as much 
an officer of justice as you are." 

So thrilling had the man's narrative been, and 
his manner was so impressive that we had sat 
silent and absorbed. Even the professional detec- 
tives, blase as they were in every detail of crime, ap- 
peared to be keenly interested in the man's story. 
When he finished we sat for some minutes in a 
stillness which was only broken by the scratch- 
ing of Lestrade's pencil as he gave the finishing 
touches to his shorthand account. 

"There is only one point on which I should like 
a little more information," Sherlock Holmes said 
at last. "Who was your accomplice who came for 
the ring which I advertised?" 

The prisoner winked at my friend jocosely. "I 
can tell my own secrets," he said, "but I don't get 
other people into trouble. I saw your advertise- 
ment, and I thought it might be a plant, or it might 
be the ring which I wanted. My friend volunteered 
to go and see. I think you'll own he did it smartly." 

"Not a doubt of that," said Holmes heartily. 

"Now, gentlemen," the Inspector remarked 
gravely, "the forms of the law must be complied 
with. On Thursday the prisoner will be brought 
before the magistrates, and your attendance will 
be required. Until then I will be responsible for 
him." He rang the bell as he spoke, and Jefferson 
Hope was led off by a couple of warders, while my 
friend and I made our way out of the Station and 
took a cab back to Baker Street. 



CHAPTER VII. 

The Conclusion 



We had all been warned to appear before 
the magistrates upon the Thursday; but when the 
Thursday came there was no occasion for our tes- 
timony. A higher Judge had taken the matter in 



hand, and Jefferson Hope had been summoned be- 
fore a tribunal where strict justice would be meted 
out to him. On the very night after his capture the 
aneurism burst, and he was found in the morning 



59 



A Study In Scarlet 



stretched upon the floor of the cell, with a placid 
smile upon his face, as though he had been able in 
his dying moments to look back upon a useful life, 
and on work well done. 

"Gregson and Lestrade will be wild about his 
death," Holmes remarked, as we chatted it over 
next evening. "Where will their grand advertise- 
ment be now?" 

"I don't see that they had very much to do with 
his capture," I answered. 

"What you do in this world is a matter of no 
consequence," returned my companion, bitterly. 
"The question is, what can you make people be- 
lieve that you have done. Never mind," he con- 
tinued, more brightly, after a pause. "I would not 
have missed the investigation for anything. There 
has been no better case within my recollection. 
Simple as it was, there were several most instruc- 
tive points about it." 

"Simple!" I ejaculated. 

"Well, really, it can hardly be described as oth- 
erwise," said Sherlock Holmes, smiling at my sur- 
prise. "The proof of its intrinsic simplicity is, that 
without any help save a few very ordinary deduc- 
tions I was able to lay my hand upon the criminal 
within three days." 

"That is true," said I. 

"I have already explained to you that what is 
out of the common is usually a guide rather than 
a hindrance. In solving a problem of this sort, the 
grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That 
is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy 
one, but people do not practise it much. In the 
every-day affairs of life it is more useful to reason 
forwards, and so the other comes to be neglected. 
There are fifty who can reason synthetically for 
one who can reason analytically." 

"I confess," said I, "that I do not quite follow 
you." 

"I hardly expected that you would. Let me see 
if I can make it clearer. Most people, if you de- 
scribe a train of events to them, will tell you what 
the result would be. They can put those events to- 
gether in their minds, and argue from them that 
something will come to pass. There are few peo- 
ple, however, who, if you told them a result, would 
be able to evolve from their own inner conscious- 
ness what the steps were which led up to that re- 
sult. This power is what I mean when I talk of 
reasoning backwards, or analytically." 

"I understand," said I. 



"Now this was a case in which you were given 
the result and had to find everything else for your- 
self. Now let me endeavour to show you the dif- 
ferent steps in my reasoning. To begin at the be- 
ginning. I approached the house, as you know, 
on foot, and with my mind entirely free from all 
impressions. I naturally began by examining the 
roadway, and there, as I have already explained to 
you, I saw clearly the marks of a cab, which, I as- 
certained by inquiry, must have been there during 
the night. I satisfied myself that it was a cab and 
not a private carriage by the narrow gauge of the 
wheels. The ordinary London growler is consider- 
ably less wide than a gentleman's brougham. 

"This was the first point gained. I then walked 
slowly down the garden path, which happened 
to be composed of a clay soil, peculiarly suitable 
for taking impressions. No doubt it appeared to 
you to be a mere trampled line of slush, but to 
my trained eyes every mark upon its surface had 
a meaning. There is no branch of detective science 
which is so important and so much neglected as 
the art of tracing footsteps. Happily, I have always 
laid great stress upon it, and much practice has 
made it second nature to me. I saw the heavy foot- 
marks of the constables, but I saw also the track 
of the two men who had first passed through the 
garden. It was easy to tell that they had been 
before the others, because in places their marks 
had been entirely obliterated by the others com- 
ing upon the top of them. In this way my second 
link was formed, which told me that the noctur- 
nal visitors were two in number, one remarkable 
for his height (as I calculated from the length of 
his stride), and the other fashionably dressed, to 
judge from the small and elegant impression left 
by his boots. 

"On entering the house this last inference was 
confirmed. My well-booted man lay before me. 
The tall one, then, had done the murder, if murder 
there was. There was no wound upon the dead 
man's person, but the agitated expression upon his 
face assured me that he had foreseen his fate be- 
fore it came upon him. Men who die from heart 
disease, or any sudden natural cause, never by any 
chance exhibit agitation upon their features. Hav- 
ing sniffed the dead man's lips I detected a slightly 
sour smell, and I came to the conclusion that he 
had had poison forced upon him. Again, I argued 
that it had been forced upon him from the hatred 
and fear expressed upon his face. By the method of 
exclusion, I had arrived at this result, for no other 
hypothesis would meet the facts. Do not imagine 
that it was a very unheard of idea. The forcible ad- 
ministration of poison is by no means a new thing 



60 



A Study In Scarlet 



in criminal annals. The cases of Dolsky in Odessa, 
and of Leturier in Montpellier, will occur at once 
to any toxicologist. 

"And now came the great question as to the 
reason why. Robbery had not been the object of 
the murder, for nothing was taken. Was it poli- 
tics, then, or was it a woman? That was the ques- 
tion which confronted me. I was inclined from the 
first to the latter supposition. Political assassins 
are only too glad to do their work and to fly. This 
murder had, on the contrary, been done most de- 
liberately, and the perpetrator had left his tracks all 
over the room, showing that he had been there all 
the time. It must have been a private wrong, and 
not a political one, which called for such a method- 
ical revenge. When the inscription was discovered 
upon the wall I was more inclined than ever to 
my opinion. The thing was too evidently a blind. 
When the ring was found, however, it settled the 
question. Clearly the murderer had used it to re- 
mind his victim of some dead or absent woman. 
It was at this point that I asked Gregson whether 
he had enquired in his telegram to Cleveland as 
to any particular point in Mr. Drebber's former ca- 
reer. He answered, you remember, in the negative. 

"I then proceeded to make a careful examina- 
tion of the room, which confirmed me in my opin- 
ion as to the murderer's height, and furnished me 
with the additional details as to the Trichinopoly 
cigar and the length of his nails. I had already 
come to the conclusion, since there were no signs 
of a struggle, that the blood which covered the 
floor had burst from the murderer's nose in his ex- 
citement. I could perceive that the track of blood 
coincided with the track of his feet. It is sel- 
dom that any man, unless he is very full-blooded, 
breaks out in this way through emotion, so I haz- 
arded the opinion that the criminal was probably 
a robust and ruddy-faced man. Events proved that 
I had judged correctly. 

"Having left the house, I proceeded to do what 
Gregson had neglected. I telegraphed to the head 
of the police at Cleveland, limiting my enquiry to 
the circumstances connected with the marriage of 
Enoch Drebber. The answer was conclusive. It 
told me that Drebber had already applied for the 
protection of the law against an old rival in love, 
named Jefferson Hope, and that this same Hope 
was at present in Europe. I knew now that I held 
the clue to the mystery in my hand, and all that 
remained was to secure the murderer. 

"I had already determined in my own mind 
that the man who had walked into the house with 
Drebber, was none other than the man who had 



driven the cab. The marks in the road showed me 
that the horse had wandered on in a way which 
would have been impossible had there been any- 
one in charge of it. Where, then, could the driver 
be, unless he were inside the house? Again, it is 
absurd to suppose that any sane man would carry 
out a deliberate crime under the very eyes, as it 
were, of a third person, who was sure to betray 
him. Lastly, supposing one man wished to dog 
another through London, what better means could 
he adopt than to turn cabdriver. All these consid- 
erations led me to the irresistible conclusion that 
Jefferson Hope was to be found among the jarveys 
of the Metropolis. 

"If he had been one there was no reason to be- 
lieve that he had ceased to be. On the contrary, 
from his point of view, any sudden chance would 
be likely to draw attention to himself. He would, 
probably, for a time at least, continue to perform 
his duties. There was no reason to suppose that he 
was going under an assumed name. Why should 
he change his name in a country where no one 
knew his original one? I therefore organized my 
Street Arab detective corps, and sent them sys- 
tematically to every cab proprietor in London un- 
til they ferreted out the man that I wanted. How 
well they succeeded, and how quickly I took ad- 
vantage of it, are still fresh in your recollection. 
The murder of Stangerson was an incident which 
was entirely unexpected, but which could hardly 
in any case have been prevented. Through it, as 
you know, I came into possession of the pills, the 
existence of which I had already surmised. You 
see the whole thing is a chain of logical sequences 
without a break or flaw." 

"It is wonderful!" I cried. "Your merits should 
be publicly recognized. You should publish an ac- 
count of the case. If you won't, I will for you." 

"You may do what you like, Doctor," he an- 
swered. "See here!" he continued, handing a paper 
over to me, "look at this!" 

It was the Echo for the day, and the paragraph 
to which he pointed was devoted to the case in 
question. 

"The public," it said, "have lost a sensational 
treat through the sudden death of the man Hope, 
who was suspected of the murder of Mr. Enoch 
Drebber and of Mr. Joseph Stangerson. The de- 
tails of the case will probably be never known now, 
though we are informed upon good authority that 
the crime was the result of an old standing and ro- 
mantic feud, in which love and Mormonism bore 
a part. It seems that both the victims belonged, in 
their younger days, to the Latter Day Saints, and 



61 



Hope, the deceased prisoner, hails also from Salt 
Lake City. If the case has had no other effect, it, at 
least, brings out in the most striking manner the 
efficiency of our detective police force, and will 
serve as a lesson to all foreigners that they will 
do wisely to settle their feuds at home, and not 
to carry them on to British soil. It is an open se- 
cret that the credit of this smart capture belongs 
entirely to the well-known Scotland Yard officials, 
Messrs. Lestrade and Gregson. The man was ap- 
prehended, it appears, in the rooms of a certain 
Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who has himself, as an am- 
ateur, shown some talent in the detective line, and 
who, with such instructors, may hope in time to 
attain to some degree of their skill. It is expected 



that a testimonial of some sort will be presented 
to the two officers as a fitting recognition of their 
services." 

"Didn't I tell you so when we started?" cried 
Sherlock Holmes with a laugh. "That's the result 
of all our Study in Scarlet: to get them a testimo- 
nial!" 

"Never mind," I answered, "I have all the facts 
in my journal, and the public shall know them. In 
the meantime you must make yourself contented 
by the consciousness of success, like the Roman 
miser — 

" 'Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo 
Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in area.' " 



The Sign of the Four 



The Sign of the Four 



Table of contents 



The Science of Deduction 

The Statement of the Case 

In Quest of a Solution 

The Story of the Bald-Headed Man 

The Tragedy of Pondicherry Lodge 

Sherlock Holmes Gives a Demonstration . 

The Episode of the Barrel 

The Baker Street Irregulars 

A Break in the Chain 

The End of the Islander 

The Great Agra Treasure 

The Strange Story of Jonathan Small 



67 
70 

73 

75 

79 

82 

86 

91 

_9J 

100 

103 

106 



65 



The Sign of the Four 



CHAPTER I. 

The Science of Deduction 




'herlock Holmes took his bottle from 
the corner of the mantelpiece and his hy- 
podermic syringe from its neat morocco 
case. With his long, white, nervous fin- 
gers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled 
back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his 
eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm 
and wrist all dotted and scarred with innumer- 
able puncture-marks. Finally he thrust the sharp 
point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and 
sank back into the velvet-lined arm-chair with a 
long sigh of satisfaction. 

Three times a day for many months I had wit- 
nessed this performance, but custom had not rec- 
onciled my mind to it. On the contrary, from day 
to day I had become more irritable at the sight, and 
my conscience swelled nightly within me at the 
thought that I had lacked the courage to protest. 
Again and again I had registered a vow that I 
should deliver my soul upon the subject, but there 
was that in the cool, nonchalant air of my com- 
panion which made him the last man with whom 
one would care to take anything approaching to 
a liberty. His great powers, his masterly manner, 
and the experience which I had had of his many 
extraordinary qualities, all made me diffident and 
backward in crossing him. 

Yet upon that afternoon, whether it was the 
Beaune which I had taken with my lunch, or the 
additional exasperation produced by the extreme 
deliberation of his manner, I suddenly felt that I 
could hold out no longer. 

"Which is it to-day?" I asked, — "morphine or 
cocaine?" 

He raised his eyes languidly from the old 
black-letter volume which he had opened. "It 
is cocaine," he said, — "a seven-per-cent solution. 
Would you care to try it?" 

"No, indeed," I answered, brusquely. "My con- 
stitution has not got over the Afghan campaign 
yet. I cannot afford to throw any extra strain upon 
it." 

He smiled at my vehemence. "Perhaps you are 
right, Watson," he said. "I suppose that its influ- 
ence is physically a bad one. I find it, however, 
so transcendently stimulating and clarifying to the 
mind that its secondary action is a matter of small 
moment." 

"But consider!" I said, earnestly. "Count the 
cost! Your brain may, as you say, be roused and ex- 
cited, but it is a pathological and morbid process, 



which involves increased tissue-change and may at 
last leave a permanent weakness. You know, too, 
what a black reaction comes upon you. Surely the 
game is hardly worth the candle. Why should you, 
for a mere passing pleasure, risk the loss of those 
great powers with which you have been endowed? 
Remember that I speak not only as one comrade 
to another, but as a medical man to one for whose 
constitution he is to some extent answerable." 

He did not seem offended. On the contrary, he 
put his fingertips together and leaned his elbows 
on the arms of his chair, like one who has a relish 
for conversation. 

"My mind," he said, "rebels at stagnation. Give 
me problems, give me work, give me the most ab- 
struse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, 
and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dis- 
pense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor 
the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental 
exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own par- 
ticular profession, — or rather created it, for I am 
the only one in the world." 

"The only unofficial detective?" I said, raising 
my eyebrows. 

"The only unofficial consulting detective," he 
answered. "I am the last and highest court of ap- 
peal in detection. When Gregson or Lestrade or 
Athelney Jones are out of their depths — which, by 
the way, is their normal state — the matter is laid 
before me. I examine the data, as an expert, and 
pronounce a specialist's opinion. I claim no credit 
in such cases. My name figures in no newspa- 
per. The work itself, the pleasure of finding a 
field for my peculiar powers, is my highest reward. 
But you have yourself had some experience of my 
methods of work in the Jefferson Hope case." 

"Yes, indeed," said I, cordially. "I was never so 
struck by anything in my life. I even embodied it 
in a small brochure with the somewhat fantastic 
title of 'A Study in Scarlet.' " 

He shook his head sadly. "I glanced over it," 
said he. "Honestly, I cannot congratulate you upon 
it. Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science, 
and should be treated in the same cold and un- 
emotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it 
with romanticism, which produces much the same 
effect as if you worked a love-story or an elope- 
ment into the fifth proposition of Euclid." 

"But the romance was there," I remonstrated. 
"I could not tamper with the facts." 



67 



The Sign of the Four 



"Some facts should be suppressed, or at least 
a just sense of proportion should be observed in 
treating them. The only point in the case which 
deserved mention was the curious analytical rea- 
soning from effects to causes by which I succeeded 
in unraveling it." 

I was annoyed at this criticism of a work which 
had been specially designed to please him. I con- 
fess, too, that I was irritated by the egotism which 
seemed to demand that every line of my pamphlet 
should be devoted to his own special doings. More 
than once during the years that I had lived with 
him in Baker Street I had observed that a small 
vanity underlay my companion's quiet and didac- 
tic manner. I made no remark, however, but sat 
nursing my wounded leg. I had a Jezail bullet 
through it some time before, and, though it did 
not prevent me from walking, it ached wearily at 
every change of the weather. 

"My practice has extended recently to the Con- 
tinent," said Holmes, after a while, filling up his 
old brier-root pipe. "I was consulted last week by 
Francois Le Villard, who, as you probably know, 
has come rather to the front lately in the French de- 
tective service. He has all the Celtic power of quick 
intuition, but he is deficient in the wide range of 
exact knowledge which is essential to the higher 
developments of his art. The case was concerned 
with a will, and possessed some features of inter- 
est. I was able to refer him to two parallel cases, 
the one at Riga in 1857, and the other at St. Louis 
in 1871, which have suggested to him the true so- 
lution. Here is the letter which I had this morning 
acknowledging my assistance." He tossed over, as 
he spoke, a crumpled sheet of foreign notepaper. I 
glanced my eyes down it, catching a profusion of 
notes of admiration, with stray magnifiques, coup- 
de-maitres and tours-de-force, all testifying to the ar- 
dent admiration of the Frenchman. 

"He speaks as a pupil to his master," said I. 

"Oh, he rates my assistance too highly," said 
Sherlock Holmes, lightly. "He has considerable 
gifts himself. He possesses two out of the three 
qualities necessary for the ideal detective. He has 
the power of observation and that of deduction. 
He is only wanting in knowledge; and that may 
come in time. He is now translating my small 
works into French." 

"Your works?" 

"Oh, didn't you know?" he cried, laughing. 
"Yes, I have been guilty of several monographs. 
They are all upon technical subjects. Here, for 
example, is one 'Upon the Distinction between the 
Ashes of the Various Tobaccoes.' In it I enumerate a 



hundred and forty forms of cigar-, cigarette-, and 
pipe-tobacco, with colored plates illustrating the 
difference in the ash. It is a point which is con- 
tinually turning up in criminal trials, and which 
is sometimes of supreme importance as a clue. If 
you can say definitely, for example, that some mur- 
der has been done by a man who was smoking an 
Indian lunkah, it obviously narrows your field of 
search. To the trained eye there is as much differ- 
ence between the black ash of a Trichinopoly and 
the white fluff of bird's-eye as there is between a 
cabbage and a potato." 

"You have an extraordinary genius for minu- 
tiae," I remarked. 

"I appreciate their importance. Here is my 
monograph upon the tracing of footsteps, with 
some remarks upon the uses of plaster of Paris 
as a preserver of impresses. Here, too, is a cu- 
rious little work upon the influence of a trade 
upon the form of the hand, with lithotypes of the 
hands of slaters, sailors, corkcutters, compositors, 
weavers, and diamond-polishers. That is a mat- 
ter of great practical interest to the scientific detec- 
tive, — especially in cases of unclaimed bodies, or 
in discovering the antecedents of criminals. But I 
weary you with my hobby. " 

"Not at all," I answered, earnestly. "It is of the 
greatest interest to me, especially since I have had 
the opportunity of observing your practical appli- 
cation of it. But you spoke just now of observation 
and deduction. Surely the one to some extent im- 
plies the other." 

"Why, hardly," he answered, leaning back lux- 
uriously in his armchair, and sending up thick blue 
wreaths from his pipe. "For example, observa- 
tion shows me that you have been to the Wigmore 
Street Post-Office this morning, but deduction lets 
me know that when there you dispatched a tele- 
gram." 

"Right!" said I. "Right on both points! But I 
confess that I don't see how you arrived at it. It 
was a sudden impulse upon my part, and I have 
mentioned it to no one." 

"It is simplicity itself," he remarked, chuckling 
at my surprise, — "so absurdly simple that an ex- 
planation is superfluous; and yet it may serve to 
define the limits of observation and of deduction. 
Observation tells me that you have a little reddish 
mould adhering to your instep. Just opposite the 
Seymour Street Office they have taken up the pave- 
ment and thrown up some earth which lies in such 
a way that it is difficult to avoid treading in it in 
entering. The earth is of this peculiar reddish tint 
which is found, as far as I know, nowhere else in 



68 



The Sign of the Four 



the neighborhood. So much is observation. The 
rest is deduction." 

"How, then, did you deduce the telegram?" 

"Why, of course I knew that you had not writ- 
ten a letter, since I sat opposite to you all morning. 
I see also in your open desk there that you have a 
sheet of stamps and a thick bundle of postcards. 
What could you go into the post-office for, then, 
but to send a wire? Eliminate all other factors, and 
the one which remains must be the truth." 

"In this case it certainly is so," I replied, after a 
little thought. "The thing, however, is, as you say, 
of the simplest. Would you think me impertinent if 
I were to put your theories to a more severe test?" 

"On the contrary," he answered, "it would pre- 
vent me from taking a second dose of cocaine. 
I should be delighted to look into any problem 
which you might submit to me." 

"I have heard you say that it is difficult for a 
man to have any object in daily use without leav- 
ing the impress of his individuality upon it in such 
a way that a trained observer might read it. Now, 
I have here a watch which has recently come into 
my possession. Would you have the kindness to let 
me have an opinion upon the character or habits of 
the late owner?" 

I handed him over the watch with some slight 
feeling of amusement in my heart, for the test 
was, as I thought, an impossible one, and I in- 
tended it as a lesson against the somewhat dog- 
matic tone which he occasionally assumed. He 
balanced the watch in his hand, gazed hard at the 
dial, opened the back, and examined the works, 
first with his naked eyes and then with a power- 
ful convex lens. I could hardly keep from smiling 
at his crestfallen face when he finally snapped the 
case to and handed it back. 

"There are hardly any data," he remarked. 
"The watch has been recently cleaned, which robs 
me of my most suggestive facts." 

"You are right," I answered. "It was cleaned be- 
fore being sent to me." In my heart I accused my 
companion of putting forward a most lame and 
impotent excuse to cover his failure. What data 
could he expect from an uncleaned watch? 

"Though unsatisfactory, my research has not 
been entirely barren," he observed, staring up at 
the ceiling with dreamy, lack-lustre eyes. "Subject 
to your correction, I should judge that the watch 
belonged to your elder brother, who inherited it 
from your father." 

"That you gather, no doubt, from the H. W. 
upon the back?" 



"Quite so. The W. suggests your own name. 
The date of the watch is nearly fifty years back, 
and the initials are as old as the watch: so it was 
made for the last generation. Jewelry usually de- 
scents to the eldest son, and he is most likely to 
have the same name as the father. Your father 
has, if I remember right, been dead many years. 
It has, therefore, been in the hands of your eldest 
brother. " 

"Right, so far," said I. "Anything else?" 

"He was a man of untidy habits, — very untidy 
and careless. He was left with good prospects, but 
he threw away his chances, lived for some time in 
poverty with occasional short intervals of prosper- 
ity, and finally, taking to drink, he died. That is all 
I can gather." 

I sprang from my chair and limped impatiently 
about the room with considerable bitterness in my 
heart. 

"This is unworthy of you, Holmes," I said. "I 
could not have believed that you would have de- 
scended to this. You have made inquires into the 
history of my unhappy brother, and you now pre- 
tend to deduce this knowledge in some fanciful 
way. You cannot expect me to believe that you have 
read all this from his old watch! It is unkind, and, 
to speak plainly, has a touch of charlatanism in it." 

"My dear doctor," said he, kindly, "pray accept 
my apologies. Viewing the matter as an abstract 
problem, I had forgotten how personal and painful 
a thing it might be to you. I assure you, however, 
that I never even know that you had a brother until 
you handed me the watch." 

"Then how in the name of all that is wonder- 
ful did you get these facts? They are absolutely 
correct in every particular. " 

"Ah, that is good luck. I could only say what 
was the balance of probability. I did not at all ex- 
pect to be so accurate." 

"But it was not mere guess-work?" 
"No, no: I never guess. It is a shocking 
habit, — destructive to the logical faculty. What 
seems strange to you is only so because you do not 
follow my train of thought or observe the small 
facts upon which large inferences may depend. 
For example, I began by stating that your brother 
was careless. When you observe the lower part 
of that watch-case you notice that it is not only 
dinted in two places, but it is cut and marked all 
over from the habit of keeping other hard objects, 
such as coins or keys, in the same pocket. Surely 
it is no great feat to assume that a man who treats 
a fifty-guinea watch so cavalierly must be a care- 
less man. Neither is it a very far-fetched inference 



69 



The Sign of the Four 



that a man who inherits one article of such value 
is pretty well provided for in other respects." 

I nodded, to show that I followed his reasoning. 

"It is very customary for pawnbrokers in Eng- 
land, when they take a watch, to scratch the num- 
ber of the ticket with a pin-point upon the inside 
of the case. It is more handy than a label, as there 
is no risk of the number being lost or transposed. 
There are no less than four such numbers visible to 
my lens on the inside of this case. Inference, — that 
your brother was often at low water. Secondary 
inference, — that he had occasional bursts of pros- 
perity, or he could not have redeemed the pledge. 
Finally, I ask you to look at the inner plate, which 
contains the key-hole. Look at the thousands of 
scratches all round the hole, — marks where the key 
has slipped. What sober man's key could have 
scored those grooves? But you will never see a 
drunkard's watch without them. He winds it at 
night, and he leaves these traces of his unsteady 
hand. Where is the mystery in all this?" 

"It is as clear as daylight," I answered. "I re- 
gret the injustice which I did you. I should have 
had more faith in your marvellous faculty. May I 



ask whether you have any professional inquiry on 
foot at present?" 

"None. Hence the cocaine. I cannot live with- 
out brain-work. What else is there to live for? 
Stand at the window here. Was ever such a dreary, 
dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow 
fog swirls down the street and drifts across the 
duncolored houses. What could be more hope- 
lessly prosaic and material? What is the use of 
having powers, doctor, when one has no field upon 
which to exert them? Crime is commonplace, exis- 
tence is commonplace, and no qualities save those 
which are commonplace have any function upon 
earth." 

I had opened my mouth to reply to this tirade, 
when with a crisp knock our landlady entered, 
bearing a card upon the brass salver. 

"A young lady for you, sir," she said, address- 
ing my companion. 

"Miss Mary Morstan," he read. "Hum! I have 
no recollection of the name. Ask the young lady to 
step up, Mrs. Hudson. Don't go, doctor. I should 
prefer that you remain." 



CHAPTER II. 

The Statement of the Case 



Miss Morstan entered the room with a firm 
step and an outward composure of manner. She 
was a blonde young lady, small, dainty, well 
gloved, and dressed in the most perfect taste. 
There was, however, a plainness and simplicity 
about her costume which bore with it a sugges- 
tion of limited means. The dress was a sombre 
grayish beige, untrimmed and unbraided, and she 
wore a small turban of the same dull hue, re- 
lieved only by a suspicion of white feather in the 
side. Her face had neither regularity of feature 
nor beauty of complexion, but her expression was 
sweet and amiable, and her large blue eyes were 
singularly spiritual and sympathetic. In an experi- 
ence of women which extends over many nations 
and three separate continents, I have never looked 
upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a re- 
fined and sensitive nature. I could not but observe 
that as she took the seat which Sherlock Holmes 



placed for her, her lip trembled, her hand quiv- 
ered, and she showed every sign of intense inward 
agitation. 

"I have come to you, Mr. Holmes," she said, 
"because you once enabled my employer, Mrs. Ce- 
cil Forrester, to unravel a little domestic complica- 
tion. She was much impressed by your kindness 
and skill." 

"Mrs. Cecil Forrester," he repeated thought- 
fully. "I believe that I was of some slight service 
to her. The case, however, as I remember it, was a 
very simple one." 

"She did not think so. But at least you cannot 
say the same of mine. I can hardly imagine any- 
thing more strange, more utterly inexplicable, than 
the situation in which I find myself." 

Holmes rubbed his hands, and his eyes glis- 
tened. He leaned forward in his chair with an ex- 
pression of extraordinary concentration upon his 



70 



The Sign of the Four 



clear-cut, hawklike features. "State your case," 
said he, in brisk, business tones. 

I felt that my position was an embarrassing 
one. "You will, I am sure, excuse me," I said, rising 
from my chair. 

To my surprise, the young lady held up her 
gloved hand to detain me. "If your friend," she 
said, "would be good enough to stop, he might be 
of inestimable service to me." 

I relapsed into my chair. 

"Briefly," she continued, "the facts are these. 
My father was an officer in an Indian regiment 
who sent me home when I was quite a child. My 
mother was dead, and I had no relative in England. 
I was placed, however, in a comfortable boarding 
establishment at Edinburgh, and there I remained 
until I was seventeen years of age. In the year 1878 
my father, who was senior captain of his regiment, 
obtained twelve months' leave and came home. He 
telegraphed to me from London that he had ar- 
rived all safe, and directed me to come down at 
once, giving the Langham Hotel as his address. 
His message, as I remember, was full of kindness 
and love. On reaching London I drove to the Lang- 
ham, and was informed that Captain Morstan was 
staying there, but that he had gone out the night 
before and had not yet returned. I waited all day 
without news of him. That night, on the advice 
of the manager of the hotel, I communicated with 
the police, and next morning we advertised in all 
the papers. Our inquiries let to no result; and from 
that day to this no word has ever been heard of my 
unfortunate father. He came home with his heart 
full of hope, to find some peace, some comfort, and 
instead — " She put her hand to her throat, and a 
choking sob cut short the sentence. 

"The date?" asked Holmes, opening his note- 
book. 

"He disappeared upon the 3d of December, 
1878, — nearly ten years ago." 

"His luggage?" 

"Remained at the hotel. There was nothing in 
it to suggest a clue, — some clothes, some books, 
and a considerable number of curiosities from the 
Andaman Islands. He had been one of the officers 
in charge of the convict-guard there." 

"Had he any friends in town?" 

"Only one that we know of, — Major Sholto, 
of his own regiment, the 34th Bombay Infantry. 
The major had retired some little time before, and 
lived at Upper Norwood. We communicated with 
him, of course, but he did not even know that his 
brother officer was in England." 



"A singular case," remarked Holmes. 

"I have not yet described to you the most sin- 
gular part. About six years ago — to be exact, upon 
the 4th of May, 1882 — an advertisement appeared 
in the Times asking for the address of Miss Mary 
Morstan and stating that it would be to her ad- 
vantage to come forward. There was no name or 
address appended. I had at that time just entered 
the family of Mrs. Cecil Forrester in the capacity 
of governess. By her advice I published my ad- 
dress in the advertisement column. The same day 
there arrived through the post a small card-board 
box addressed to me, which I found to contain a 
very large and lustrous pearl. No word of writing 
was enclosed. Since then every year upon the same 
date there has always appeared a similar box, con- 
taining a similar pearl, without any clue as to the 
sender. They have been pronounced by an expert 
to be of a rare variety and of considerable value. 
You can see for yourselves that they are very hand- 
some." She opened a flat box as she spoke, and 
showed me six of the finest pearls that I had ever 
seen. 

"Your statement is most interesting," said Sher- 
lock Holmes. "Has anything else occurred to 
you?" 

"Yes, and no later than to-day. That is why I 
have come to you. This morning I received this 
letter, which you will perhaps read for yourself." 

"Thank you," said Holmes. "The envelope 
too, please. Postmark, London, S.W. Date, July 7. 
Hum! Man's thumb-mark on corner, — probably 
postman. Best quality paper. Envelopes at six- 
pence a packet. Particular man in his stationery. 
No address. 'Be at the third pillar from the left out- 
side the Lyceum Theatre to-night at seven o'clock. 
If you are distrustful, bring two friends. You are 
a wronged woman, and shall have justice. Do not 
bring police. If you do, all will be in vain. Your 
unknown friend.' Well, really, this is a very pretty 
little mystery. What do you intend to do, Miss 
Morstan?" 

"That is exactly what I want to ask you." 

"Then we shall most certainly go. You and I 
and — yes, why, Dr. Watson is the very man. Your 
correspondent says two friends. He and I have 
worked together before." 

"But would he come?" she asked, with some- 
thing appealing in her voice and expression. 

"I should be proud and happy," said I, fer- 
vently, "if I can be of any service." 

"You are both very kind," she answered. "I 
have led a retired life, and have no friends whom 



7i 



The Sign of the Four 



I could appeal to. If I am here at six it will do, I 
suppose?" 

"You must not be later," said Holmes. "There 
is one other point, however. Is this handwriting 
the same as that upon the pearl-box addresses?" 

"I have them here," she answered, producing 
half a dozen pieces of paper. 

"You are certainly a model client. You have the 
correct intuition. Let us see, now." He spread out 
the papers upon the table, and gave little darting 
glances from one to the other. "They are disguised 
hands, except the letter," he said, presently, "but 
there can be no question as to the authorship. See 
how the irrepressible Greek e will break out, and 
see the twirl of the final s. They are undoubtedly 
by the same person. I should not like to suggest 
false hopes, Miss Morstan, but is there any resem- 
blance between this hand and that of your father?" 

"Nothing could be more unlike." 

"I expected to hear you say so. We shall look 
out for you, then, at six. Pray allow me to keep the 
papers. I may look into the matter before then. It 
is only half -past three. Au revoir, then." 

"Au revoir," said our visitor, and, with a bright, 
kindly glance from one to the other of us, she re- 
placed her pearl-box in her bosom and hurried 
away. Standing at the window, I watched her walk- 
ing briskly down the street, until the gray turban 
and white feather were but a speck in the sombre 
crowd. 

"What a very attractive woman!" I exclaimed, 
turning to my companion. 

He had lit his pipe again, and was leaning 
back with drooping eyelids. "Is she?" he said, lan- 
guidly. "I did not observe." 

"You really are an automaton, — a calculating- 
machine!" I cried. "There is something positively 
inhuman in you at times." 

He smiled gently. "It is of the first importance," 
he said, "not to allow your judgment to be biased 
by personal qualities. A client is to me a mere 
unit, — a factor in a problem. The emotional qual- 
ities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. I assure 



you that the most winning woman I ever knew 
was hanged for poisoning three little children for 
their insurance-money, and the most repellant man 
of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has 
spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the Lon- 
don poor." 

"In this case, however — " 

"I never make exceptions. An exception dis- 
proves the rule. Have you ever had occasion to 
study character in handwriting? What do you 
make of this fellow's scribble?" 

"It is legible and regular," I answered. "A man 
of business habits and some force of character." 

Holmes shook his head. "Look at his long let- 
ters," he said. "They hardly rise above the com- 
mon herd. That d might be an a, and that / an 
e. Men of character always differentiate their long 
letters, however illegibly they may write. There is 
vacillation in his k's and self-esteem in his capitals. 
I am going out now. I have some few references 
to make. Let me recommend this book, — one of 
the most remarkable ever penned. It is Winwood 
Reade's Martyrdom of Man. I shall be back in an 
hour." 

I sat in the window with the volume in my 
hand, but my thoughts were far from the daring 
speculations of the writer. My mind ran upon 
our late visitor, — her smiles, the deep rich tones 
of her voice, the strange mystery which overhung 
her life. If she were seventeen at the time of 
her father 's disappearance she must be seven-and- 
twenty now, — a sweet age, when youth has lost its 
self-consciousness and become a little sobered by 
experience. So I sat and mused, until such dan- 
gerous thoughts came into my head that I hur- 
ried away to my desk and plunged furiously into 
the latest treatise upon pathology. What was I, 
an army surgeon with a weak leg and a weaker 
banking-account, that I should dare to think of 
such things? She was a unit, a factor, — nothing 
more. If my future were black, it was better surely 
to face it like a man than to attempt to brighten it 
by mere will-o'-the-wisps of the imagination. 



72 



The Sign of the Four 



CHAPTER III. 

In Quest of a Solution 



It was half-past five before Holmes returned. 
He was bright, eager, and in excellent spirits, — a 
mood which in his case alternated with fits of the 
blackest depression. 

"There is no great mystery in this matter," he 
said, taking the cup of tea which I had poured out 
for him. "The facts appear to admit of only one 
explanation." 

"What! you have solved it already?" 

"Well, that would be too much to say. I have 
discovered a suggestive fact, that is all. It is, how- 
ever, very suggestive. The details are still to be 
added. I have just found, on consulting the back 
files of the Times, that Major Sholto, of Upper Nor- 
word, late of the 34th Bombay Infantry, died upon 
the 28th of April, 1882." 

"I may be very obtuse, Holmes, but I fail to see 
what this suggests." 

"No? You surprise me. Look at it in this way, 
then. Captain Morstan disappears. The only per- 
son in London whom he could have visited is Ma- 
jor Sholto. Major Sholto denies having heard that 
he was in London. Four years later Sholto dies. 
Within a week of his death Captain Morstan's daugh- 
ter receives a valuable present, which is repeated 
from year to year, and now culminates in a letter 
which describes her as a wronged woman. What 
wrong can it refer to except this deprivation of 
her father? And why should the presents begin 
immediately after Sholto's death, unless it is that 
Sholto's heir knows something of the mystery and 
desires to make compensation? Have you any al- 
ternative theory which will meet the facts?" 

"But what a strange compensation! And how 
strangely made! Why, too, should he write a letter 
now, rather than six years ago? Again, the letter 
speaks of giving her justice. What justice can she 
have? It is too much to suppose that her father is 
still alive. There is no other injustice in her case 
that you know of." 

"There are difficulties; there are certainly dif- 
ficulties," said Sherlock Holmes, pensively. "But 
our expedition of to-night will solve them all. Ah, 
here is a four-wheeler, and Miss Morstan is inside. 
Are you all ready? Then we had better go down, 
for it is a little past the hour." 

I picked up my hat and my heaviest stick, but 
I observed that Holmes took his revolver from his 
drawer and slipped it into his pocket. It was clear 



that he thought that our night's work might be a 
serious one. 

Miss Morstan was muffled in a dark cloak, 
and her sensitive face was composed, but pale. 
She must have been more than woman if she 
did not feel some uneasiness at the strange enter- 
prise upon which we were embarking, yet her self- 
control was perfect, and she readily answered the 
few additional questions which Sherlock Holmes 
put to her. 

"Major Sholto was a very particular friend of 
papa's," she said. "His letters were full of allu- 
sions to the major. He and papa were in command 
of the troops at the Andaman Islands, so they were 
thrown a great deal together. By the way, a curi- 
ous paper was found in papa's desk which no one 
could understand. I don't suppose that it is of the 
slightest importance, but I thought you might care 
to see it, so I brought it with me. It is here." 

Holmes unfolded the paper carefully and 
smoothed it out upon his knee. He then very 
methodically examined it all over with his double 
lens. 

"It is paper of native Indian manufacture," he 
remarked. "It has at some time been pinned to a 
board. The diagram upon it appears to be a plan of 
part of a large building with numerous halls, cor- 
ridors, and passages. At one point is a small cross 
done in red ink, and above it is '3.37 from left,' 
in faded pencil-writing. In the left-hand corner is 
a curious hieroglyphic like four crosses in a line 
with their arms touching. Beside it is written, in 
very rough and coarse characters, 'The sign of the 
four, — Jonathan Small, Mahomet Singh, Abdullah 
Khan, Dost Akbar.' No, I confess that I do not see 
how this bears upon the matter. Yet it is evidently 
a document of importance. It has been kept care- 
fully in a pocket-book; for the one side is as clean 
as the other." 

"It was in his pocket-book that we found it." 
"Preserve it carefully, then, Miss Morstan, for 
it may prove to be of use to us. I begin to suspect 
that this matter may turn out to be much deeper 
and more subtle than I at first supposed. I must 
reconsider my ideas." He leaned back in the cab, 
and I could see by his drawn brow and his vacant 
eye that he was thinking intently. Miss Morstan 
and I chatted in an undertone about our present 
expedition and its possible outcome, but our com- 
panion maintained his impenetrable reserve until 
the end of our journey. 



73 



The Sign of the Four 



It was a September evening, and not yet seven 
o'clock, but the day had been a dreary one, 
and a dense drizzly fog lay low upon the great 
city. Mud-colored clouds drooped sadly over the 
muddy streets. Down the Strand the lamps were 
but misty splotches of diffused light which threw a 
feeble circular glimmer upon the slimy pavement. 
The yellow glare from the shop-windows streamed 
out into the steamy, vaporous air, and threw a 
murky, shifting radiance across the crowded thor- 
oughfare. There was, to my mind, something 
eerie and ghost-like in the endless procession of 
faces which flitted across these narrow bars of 
light, — sad faces and glad, haggard and merry. 
Like all human kind, they flitted from the gloom 
into the light, and so back into the gloom once 
more. I am not subject to impressions, but the dull, 
heavy evening, with the strange business upon 
which we were engaged, combined to make me 
nervous and depressed. I could see from Miss 
Morstan's manner that she was suffering from the 
same feeling. Holmes alone could rise superior to 
petty influences. He held his open note-book upon 
his knee, and from time to time he jotted down 
figures and memoranda in the light of his pocket- 
lantern. 

At the Lyceum Theatre the crowds were al- 
ready thick at the side-entrances. In front a 
continuous stream of hansoms and four-wheelers 
were rattling up, discharging their cargoes of 
shirt-fronted men and beshawled, bediamonded 
women. We had hardly reached the third pillar, 
which was our rendezvous, before a small, dark, 
brisk man in the dress of a coachman accosted us. 

"Are you the parties who come with Miss 
Morstan?" he asked. 

"I am Miss Morstan, and these two gentlemen 
are my friends," said she. 

He bent a pair of wonderfully penetrating and 
questioning eyes upon us. "You will excuse me, 
miss," he said with a certain dogged manner, "but 
I was to ask you to give me your word that neither 
of your companions is a police-officer." 

"I give you my word on that," she answered. 

He gave a shrill whistle, on which a street Arab 
led across a four-wheeler and opened the door. 
The man who had addressed us mounted to the 
box, while we took our places inside. We had 
hardly done so before the driver whipped up his 
horse, and we plunged away at a furious pace 
through the foggy streets. 

The situation was a curious one. We were 
driving to an unknown place, on an unknown 
errand. Yet our invitation was either a com- 
plete hoax, — which was an inconceivable hypoth- 
esis, — or else we had good reason to think that im- 
portant issues might hang upon our journey. Miss 



Morstan's demeanor was as resolute and collected 
as ever. I endeavored to cheer and amuse her by 
reminiscences of my adventures in Afghanistan; 
but, to tell the truth, I was myself so excited at our 
situation and so curious as to our destination that 
my stories were slightly involved. To this day she 
declares that I told her one moving anecdote as to 
how a musket looked into my tent at the dead of 
night, and how I fired a double-barrelled tiger cub 
at it. At first I had some idea as to the direction 
in which we were driving; but soon, what with 
our pace, the fog, and my own limited knowledge 
of London, I lost my bearings, and knew nothing, 
save that we seemed to be going a very long way. 
Sherlock Holmes was never at fault, however, and 
he muttered the names as the cab rattled through 
squares and in and out by tortuous by-streets. 

"Rochester Row," said he. "Now Vincent 
Square. Now we come out on the Vauxhall Bridge 
Road. We are making for the Surrey side, appar- 
ently. Yes, I thought so. Now we are on the bridge. 
You can catch glimpses of the river." 

We did indeed bet a fleeting view of a stretch 
of the Thames with the lamps shining upon the 
broad, silent water; but our cab dashed on, and 
was soon involved in a labyrinth of streets upon 
the other side. 

"Wordsworth Road," said my companion. 
"Priory Road. Lark Hall Lane. Stockwell Place. 
Robert Street. Cold Harbor Lane. Our quest does 
not appear to take us to very fashionable regions." 

We had, indeed, reached a questionable and 
forbidding neighborhood. Long lines of dull brick 
houses were only relieved by the coarse glare and 
tawdry brilliancy of public houses at the corner. 
Then came rows of two-storied villas each with a 
fronting of miniature garden, and then again inter- 
minable lines of new staring brick buildings, — the 
monster tentacles which the giant city was throw- 
ing out into the country. At last the cab drew 
up at the third house in a new terrace. None 
of the other houses were inhabited, and that at 
which we stopped was as dark as its neighbors, 
save for a single glimmer in the kitchen window. 
On our knocking, however, the door was instantly 
thrown open by a Hindoo servant clad in a yellow 
turban, white loose-fitting clothes, and a yellow 
sash. There was something strangely incongruous 
in this Oriental figure framed in the commonplace 
door- way of a third-rate suburban dwelling-house. 

"The Sahib awaits you," said he, and even as he 
spoke there came a high piping voice from some 
inner room. "Show them in to me, khitmutgar," it 
cried. "Show them straight in to me." 



74 



The Sign of the Four 



CHAPTER IV. 

The Story of the Bald-Headed Man 



We followed the Indian down a sordid and 
common passage, ill lit and worse furnished, un- 
til he came to a door upon the right, which he 
threw open. A blaze of yellow light streamed out 
upon us, and in the centre of the glare there stood 
a small man with a very high head, a bristle of 
red hair all round the fringe of it, and a bald, 
shining scalp which shot out from among it like 
a mountain-peak from fir-trees. He writhed his 
hands together as he stood, and his features were 
in a perpetual jerk, now smiling, now scowling, 
but never for an instant in repose. Nature had 
given him a pendulous lip, and a too visible line 
of yellow and irregular teeth, which he strove fee- 
bly to conceal by constantly passing his hand over 
the lower part of his face. In spite of his obtru- 
sive baldness, he gave the impression of youth. In 
point of fact he had just turned his thirtieth year. 

"Your servant, Miss Morstan," he kept repeat- 
ing, in a thin, high voice. "Your servant, gentle- 
men. Pray step into my little sanctum. A small 
place, miss, but furnished to my own liking. An 
oasis of art in the howling desert of South Lon- 
don." 

We were all astonished by the appearance o the 
apartment into which he invited us. In that sorry 
house it looked as out of place as a diamond of 
the first water in a setting of brass. The richest 
and glossiest of curtains and tapestries draped the 
walls, looped back here and there to expose some 
richly-mounted painting or Oriental vase. The car- 
pet was of amber-and-black, so soft and so thick 
that the foot sank pleasantly into it, as into a bed 
of moss. Two great tiger-skins thrown athwart it 
increased the suggestion of Eastern luxury, as did 
a huge hookah which stood upon a mat in the cor- 
ner. A lamp in the fashion of a silver dove was 
hung from an almost invisible golden wire in the 
centre of the room. As it burned it filled the air 
with a subtle and aromatic odor. 

"Mr. Thaddeus Sholto," said the little man, still 
jerking and smiling. "That is my name. You are 
Miss Morstan, of course. And these gentlemen — " 

"This is Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and this is Dr. 
Watson." 

"A doctor, eh?" cried he, much excited. "Have 
you your stethoscope? Might I ask you — would 
you have the kindness? I have grave doubts as 
to my mitral valve, if you would be so very good. 
The aortic I may rely upon, but I should value your 
opinion upon the mitral." 



I listened to his heart, as requested, but was 
unable to find anything amiss, save indeed that he 
was in an ecstasy of fear, for he shivered from head 
to foot. "It appears to be normal," I said. "You 
have no cause for uneasiness." 

"You will excuse my anxiety, Miss Morstan," 
he remarked, airily. "I am a great sufferer, and I 
have long had suspicions as to that valve. I am 
delighted to hear that they are unwarranted. Had 
your father, Miss Morstan, refrained from throw- 
ing a strain upon his heart, he might have been 
alive now." 

I could have struck the man across the face, so 
hot was I at this callous and off-hand reference to 
so delicate a matter. Miss Morstan sat down, and 
her face grew white to the lips. "I knew in my 
heart that he was dead," said she. 

"I can give you every information," said he, 
"and, what is more, I can do you justice; and I 
will, too, whatever Brother Bartholomew may say. 
I am so glad to have your friends here, not only 
as an escort to you, but also as witnesses to what 
I am about to do and say. The three of us can 
show a bold front to Brother Bartholomew. But 
let us have no outsiders, — no police or officials. 
We can settle everything satisfactorily among our- 
selves, without any interference. Nothing would 
annoy Brother Bartholomew more than any pub- 
licity." He sat down upon a low settee and blinked 
at us inquiringly with his weak, watery blue eyes. 

"For my part," said Holmes, "whatever you 
may choose to say will go no further. " 

I nodded to show my agreement. 

"That is well! That is well!" said he. "May I 
offer you a glass of Chianti, Miss Morstan? Or of 
Tokay? I keep no other wines. Shall I open a flask? 
No? Well, then, I trust that you have no objection 
to tobacco-smoke, to the mild balsamic odor of the 
Eastern tobacco. I am a little nervous, and I find 
my hookah an invaluable sedative." He applied a 
taper to the great bowl, and the smoke bubbled 
merrily through the rose-water. We sat all three 
in a semicircle, with our heads advanced, and our 
chins upon our hands, while the strange, jerky lit- 
tle fellow, with his high, shining head, puffed un- 
easily in the centre. 

"When I first determined to make this commu- 
nication to you," said he, "I might have given you 
my address, but I feared that you might disregard 
my request and bring unpleasant people with you. 



75 



The Sign of the Four 



I took the liberty, therefore, of making an appoint- 
ment in such a way that my man Williams might 
be able to see you first. I have complete confidence 
in his discretion, and he had orders, if he were dis- 
satisfied, to proceed no further in the matter. You 
will excuse these precautions, but I am a man of 
somewhat retiring, and I might even say refined, 
tastes, and there is nothing more unaesthetic than 
a policeman. I have a natural shrinking from all 
forms of rough materialism. I seldom come in 
contact with the rough crowd. I live, as you see, 
with some little atmosphere of elegance around 
me. I may call myself a patron of the arts. It is 
my weakness. The landscape is a genuine Corot, 
and, though a connoisseur might perhaps throw a 
doubt upon that Salvator Rosa, there cannot be the 
least question about the Bouguereau. I am partial 
to the modern French school." 

"You will excuse me, Mr. Sholto," said Miss 
Morstan, "but I am here at your request to learn 
something which you desire to tell me. It is very 
late, and I should desire the interview to be as 
short as possible." 

"At the best it must take some time," he an- 
swered; "for we shall certainly have to go to Nor- 
wood and see Brother Bartholomew. We shall all 
go and try if we can get the better of Brother 
Bartholomew. He is very angry with me for tak- 
ing the course which has seemed right to me. I 
had quite high words with him last night. You 
cannot imagine what a terrible fellow he is when 
he is angry." 

"If we are to go to Norwood it would perhaps 
be as well to start at once," I ventured to remark. 

He laughed until his ears were quite red. "That 
would hardly do," he cried. "I don't know what 
he would say if I brought you in that sudden way. 
No, I must prepare you by showing you how we 
all stand to each other. In the first place, I must 
tell you that there are several points in the story 
of which I am myself ignorant. I can only lay the 
facts before you as far as I know them myself. 

"My father was, as you may have guessed, Ma- 
jor John Sholto, once of the Indian army. He re- 
tired some eleven years ago, and came to live at 
Pondicherry Lodge in Upper Norwood. He had 
prospered in India, and brought back with him 
a considerable sum of money, a large collection 
of valuable curiosities, and a staff of native ser- 
vants. With these advantages he bought himself a 
house, and lived in great luxury. My twin-brother 
Bartholomew and I were the only children. 

"I very well remember the sensation which was 
caused by the disappearance of Captain Morstan. 



We read the details in the papers, and, knowing 
that he had been a friend of our father's, we dis- 
cussed the case freely in his presence. He used 
to join in our speculations as to what could have 
happened. Never for an instant did we suspect 
that he had the whole secret hidden in his own 
breast, — that of all men he alone knew the fate of 
Arthur Morstan. 

"We did know, however, that some mys- 
tery — some positive danger — overhung our father. 
He was very fearful of going out alone, and he al- 
ways employed two prize-fighters to act as porters 
at Pondicherry Lodge. Williams, who drove you 
to-night, was one of them. He was once light- 
weight champion of England. Our father would 
never tell us what it was he feared, but he had a 
most marked aversion to men with wooden legs. 
On one occasion he actually fired his revolver at a 
wooden-legged man, who proved to be a harmless 
tradesman canvassing for orders. We had to pay a 
large sum to hush the matter up. My brother and I 
used to think this a mere whim of my father 's, but 
events have since led us to change our opinion. 

"Early in 1882 my father received a letter from 
India which was a great shock to him. He nearly 
fainted at the breakfast-table when he opened it, 
and from that day he sickened to his death. What 
was in the letter we could never discover, but I 
could see as he held it that it was short and writ- 
ten in a scrawling hand. He had suffered for 
years from an enlarged spleen, but he now became 
rapidly worse, and towards the end of April we 
were informed that he was beyond all hope, and 
that he wished to make a last communication to 
us. 

"When we entered his room he was propped 
up with pillows and breathing heavily. He be- 
sought us to lock the door and to come upon ei- 
ther side of the bed. Then, grasping our hands, 
he made a remarkable statement to us, in a voice 
which was broken as much by emotion as by pain. 
I shall try and give it to you in his own very words. 

" T have only one thing,' he said, 'which weighs 
upon my mind at this supreme moment. It is my 
treatment of poor Morstan's orphan. The cursed 
greed which has been my besetting sin through life 
has withheld from her the treasure, half at least of 
which should have been hers. And yet I have made 
no use of it myself, — so blind and foolish a thing 
is avarice. The mere feeling of possession has been 
so dear to me that I could not bear to share it with 
another. See that chaplet dipped with pearls be- 
side the quinine-bottle. Even that I could not bear 



76 



The Sign of the Four 



to part with, although I had got it out with the de- 
sign of sending it to her. You, my sons, will give 
her a fair share of the Agra treasure. But send her 
nothing — not even the chaplet — until I am gone. 
After all, men have been as bad as this and have 
recovered. 

" 'I will tell you how Morstan died,' he contin- 
ued. 'He had suffered for years from a weak heart, 
but he concealed it from every one. I alone knew 
it. When in India, he and I, through a remark- 
able chain of circumstances, came into possession 
of a considerable treasure. I brought it over to Eng- 
land, and on the night of Morstan's arrival he came 
straight over here to claim his share. He walked 
over from the station, and was admitted by my 
faithful Lai Chowdar, who is now dead. Morstan 
and I had a difference of opinion as to the divi- 
sion of the treasure, and we came to heated words. 
Morstan had sprung out of his chair in a parox- 
ysm of anger, when he suddenly pressed his hand 
to his side, his face turned a dusky hue, and he 
fell backwards, cutting his head against the corner 
of the treasure-chest. When I stooped over him I 
found, to my horror, that he was dead. 

" 'For a long time I sat half distracted, wonder- 
ing what I should do. My first impulse was, of 
course, to call for assistance; but I could not but 
recognize that there was every chance that I would 
be accused of his murder. His death at the moment 
of a quarrel, and the gash in his head, would be 
black against me. Again, an official inquiry could 
not be made without bringing out some facts about 
the treasure, which I was particularly anxious to 
keep secret. He had told me that no soul upon 
earth knew where he had gone. There seemed to 
be no necessity why any soul ever should know. 

" T was still pondering over the matter, when, 
looking up, I saw my servant, Lai Chowdar, in the 
doorway. He stole in and bolted the door behind 
him. "Do not fear, Sahib," he said. "No one need 
know that you have killed him. Let us hide him 
away, and who is the wiser?" "I did not kill him," 
said I. Lai Chowdar shook his head and smiled. "I 
heard it all, Sahib," said he. "I heard you quar- 
rel, and I heard the blow. But my lips are sealed. 
All are asleep in the house. Let us put him away 
together." That was enough to decide met. If my 
own servant could not believe my innocence, how 
could I hope to make it good before twelve fool- 
ish tradesmen in a jury-box? Lai Chowdar and I 
disposed of the body that night, and within a few 
days the London papers were full of the mysteri- 
ous disappearance of Captain Morstan. You will 
see from what I say that I can hardly be blamed 



in the matter. My fault lies in the fact that we con- 
cealed not only the body, but also the treasure, and 
that I have clung to Morstan's share as well as to 
my own. I wish you, therefore, to make restitution. 
Put your ears down to my mouth. The treasure is 
hidden in — At this instant a horrible change came 
over his expression; his eyes stared wildly, his jaw 
dropped, and he yelled, in a voice which I can 
never forget, 'Keep him out! For Christ's sake keep 
him out'! We both stared round at the window be- 
hind us upon which his gaze was fixed. A face 
was looking in at us out of the darkness. We could 
see the whitening of the nose where it was pressed 
against the glass. It was a bearded, hairy face, with 
wild cruel eyes and an expression of concentrated 
malevolence. My brother and I rushed towards 
the window, but the man was gone. When we re- 
turned to my father his head had dropped and his 
pulse had ceased to beat. 

"We searched the garden that night, but found 
no sign of the intruder, save that just under the 
window a single footmark was visible in the 
flower-bed. But for that one trace, we might have 
thought that our imaginations had conjured up 
that wild, fierce face. We soon, however, had an- 
other and a more striking proof that there were 
secret agencies at work all round us. The window 
of my father 's room was found open in the morn- 
ing, his cupboards and boxes had been rifled, and 
upon his chest was fixed a torn piece of paper, with 
the words 'The sign of the four' scrawled across it. 
What the phrase meant, or who our secret visitor 
may have been, we never knew. As far as we can 
judge, none of my father's property had been ac- 
tually stolen, though everything had been turned 
out. My brother and I naturally associated this 
peculiar incident with the fear which haunted my 
father during his life; but it is still a complete mys- 
tery to us." 

The little man stopped to relight his hookah 
and puffed thoughtfully for a few moments. We 
had all sat absorbed, listening to his extraordi- 
nary narrative. At the short account of her father's 
death Miss Morstan had turned deadly white, and 
for a moment I feared that she was about to faint. 
She rallied however, on drinking a glass of water 
which I quietly poured out for her from a Vene- 
tian carafe upon the side-table. Sherlock Holmes 
leaned back in his chair with an abstracted ex- 
pression and the lids drawn low over his glittering 
eyes. As I glanced at him I could not but think 
how on that very day he had complained bitterly 
of the commonplaceness of life. Here at least was 
a problem which would tax his sagacity to the ut- 
most. Mr. Thaddeus Sholto looked from one to 



77 



The Sign of the Four 



the other of us with an obvious pride at the effect 
which his story had produced, and then continued 
between the puffs of his overgrown pipe. 

"My brother and I," said he, "were, as you may 
imagine, much excited as to the treasure which my 
father had spoken of. For weeks and for months 
we dug and delved in every part of the garden, 
without discovering its whereabouts. It was mad- 
dening to think that the hiding-place was on his 
very lips at the moment that he died. We could 
judge the splendor of the missing riches by the 
chaplet which he had taken out. Over this chaplet 
my brother Bartholomew and I had some little dis- 
cussion. The pearls were evidently of great value, 
and he was averse to part with them, for, between 
friends, my brother was himself a little inclined 
to my father's fault. He thought, too, that if we 
parted with the chaplet it might give rise to gossip 
and finally bring us into trouble. It was all that I 
could do to persuade him to let me find out Miss 
Morstan's address and send her a detached pearl 
at fixed intervals, so that at least she might never 
feel destitute." 

"It was a kindly thought," said our companion, 
earnestly. "It was extremely good of you." 

The little man waved his hand deprecatingly 
"We were your trustees," he said. "That was 
the view which I took of it, though Brother 
Bartholomew could not altogether see it in that 
light. We had plenty of money ourselves. I desired 
no more. Besides, it would have been such bad 
taste to have treated a young lady in so scurvy 
a fashion, 'he mauvais gout mine au crime.' The 
French have a very neat way of putting these 
things. Our difference of opinion on this subject 
went so far that I thought it best to set up rooms for 
myself: so I left Pondicherry Lodge, taking the old 
khitmutgar and Williams with me. Yesterday, how- 
ever, I learn that an event of extreme importance 
has occurred. The treasure has been discovered. I 
instantly communicated with Miss Morstan, and it 
only remains for us to drive out to Norwood and 
demand our share. I explained my views last night 
to Brother Bartholomew: so we shall be expected, 
if not welcome, visitors." 

Mr. Thaddeus Sholto ceased, and sat twitching 
on his luxurious settee. We all remained silent, 
with our thoughts upon the new development 
which the mysterious business had taken. Holmes 
was the first to spring to his feet. 

"You have done well, sir, from first to last," 
said he. "It is possible that we may be able to 
make you some small return by throwing some 
light upon that which is still dark to you. But, as 



Miss Morstan remarked just now, it is late, and we 
had best put the matter through without delay." 

Our new acquaintance very deliberately coiled 
up the tube of his hookah, and produced from 
behind a curtain a very long befrogged topcoat 
with Astrakhan collar and cuffs. This he buttoned 
tightly up, in spite of the extreme closeness of 
the night, and finished his attire by putting on a 
rabbit-skin cap with hanging lappets which cov- 
ered the ears, so that no part of him was visible 
save his mobile and peaky face. "My health is 
somewhat fragile," he remarked, as he led the way 
down the passage. "I am compelled to be a vale- 
tudinarian." 

Our cab was awaiting us outside, and our pro- 
gramme was evidently prearranged, for the driver 
started off at once at a rapid pace. Thaddeus 
Sholto talked incessantly, in a voice which rose 
high above the rattle of the wheels. 

"Bartholomew is a clever fellow," said he. 
"How do you think he found out where the trea- 
sure was? He had come to the conclusion that 
it was somewhere indoors: so he worked out all 
the cubic space of the house, and made measure- 
ments everywhere, so that not one inch should be 
unaccounted for. Among other things, he found 
that the height of the building was seventy-four 
feet, but on adding together the heights of all the 
separate rooms, and making every allowance for 
the space between, which he ascertained by bor- 
ings, he could not bring the total to more than 
seventy feet. There were four feet unaccounted 
for. These could only be at the top of the build- 
ing. He knocked a hole, therefore, in the lath-and- 
plaster ceiling of the highest room, and there, sure 
enough, he came upon another little garret above 
it, which had been sealed up and was known to 
no one. In the centre stood the treasure-chest, rest- 
ing upon two rafters. He lowered it through the 
hole, and there it lies. He computes the value of 
the jewels at not less than half a million sterling." 

At the mention of this gigantic sum we all 
stared at one another open-eyed. Miss Morstan, 
could we secure her rights, would change from a 
needy governess to the richest heiress in England. 
Surely it was the place of a loyal friend to rejoice 
at such news; yet I am ashamed to say that self- 
ishness took me by the soul, and that my heart 
turned as heavy as lead within me. I stammered 
out some few halting words of congratulation, 
and then sat downcast, with my head drooped, 
deaf to the babble of our new acquaintance. He 
was clearly a confirmed hypochondriac, and I was 



78 



The Sign of the Four 



dreamily conscious that he was pouring forth in- 
terminable trains of symptoms, and imploring in- 
formation as to the composition and action of in- 
numerable quack nostrums, some of which he bore 
about in a leather case in his pocket. I trust that 
he may not remember any of the answers which I 
gave him that night. Holmes declares that he over- 
heard me caution him against the great danger of 



taking more than two drops of castor oil, while I 
recommended strychnine in large doses as a seda- 
tive. However that may be, I was certainly relieved 
when our cab pulled up with a jerk and the coach- 
man sprang down to open the door. 

"This, Miss Morstan, is Pondicherry Lodge," 
said Mr. Thaddeus Sholto, as he handed her out. 



CHAPTER V. 

The Tragedy of Pondicherry Lodge 



It was nearly eleven o'clock when we reached 
this final stage of our night's adventures. We had 
left the damp fog of the great city behind us, and 
the night was fairly fine. A warm wind blew from 
the westward, and heavy clouds moved slowly 
across the sky, with half a moon peeping occasion- 
ally through the rifts. It was clear enough to see 
for some distance, but Thaddeus Sholto took down 
one of the side-lamps from the carriage to give us 
a better light upon our way. 

Pondicherry Lodge stood in its own grounds, 
and was girt round with a very high stone wall 
topped with broken glass. A single narrow iron- 
clamped door formed the only means of en- 
trance. On this our guide knocked with a peculiar 
postman-like rat-tat. 

"Who is there?" cried a gruff voice from within. 

"It is I, McMurdo. You surely know my knock 
by this time." 

There was a grumbling sound and a clanking 
and jarring of keys. The door swung heavily back, 
and a short, deep-chested man stood in the open- 
ing, with the yellow light of the lantern shining 
upon his protruded face and twinkling distrustful 
eyes. 

"That you, Mr. Thaddeus? But who are the oth- 
ers? I had no orders about them from the master. " 

"No, McMurdo? You surprise me! I told my 
brother last night that I should bring some friends. 

"He ain't been out o' his room to-day, Mr. 
Thaddeus, and I have no orders. You know very 
well that I must stick to regulations. I can let you 
in, but your friends must just stop where they are." 



This was an unexpected obstacle. Thaddeus 
Sholto looked about him in a perplexed and help- 
less manner. "This is too bad of you, McMurdo!" 
he said. "If I guarantee them, that is enough for 
you. There is the young lady, too. She cannot wait 
on the public road at this hour." 

"Very sorry, Mr. Thaddeus," said the porter, in- 
exorably. "Folk may be friends o' yours, and yet 
no friends o' the master's. He pays me well to do 
my duty, and my duty I'll do. I don't know none 
o' your friends." 

"Oh, yes you do, McMurdo," cried Sherlock 
Holmes, genially. "I don't think you can have for- 
gotten me. Don't you remember the amateur who 
fought three rounds with you at Alison's rooms on 
the night of your benefit four years back?" 

"Not Mr. Sherlock Holmes!" roared the prize- 
fighter. "God's truth! how could I have mistook 
you? If instead o' standin' there so quiet you had 
just stepped up and given me that cross-hit of 
yours under the jaw, I'd ha' known you without 
a question. Ah, you're one that has wasted your 
gifts, you have! You might have aimed high, if you 
had joined the fancy." 

"You see, Watson, if all else fails me I have still 
one of the scientific professions open to me," said 
Holmes, laughing. "Our friend won't keep us out 
in the cold now, I am sure." 

"In you come, sir, in you come, — you and your 
friends," he answered. "Very sorry, Mr. Thaddeus, 
but orders are very strict. Had to be certain of your 
friends before I let them in." 

Inside, a gravel path wound through deso- 
late grounds to a huge clump of a house, square 



79 



The Sign of the Four 



and prosaic, all plunged in shadow save where a 
moonbeam struck one corner and glimmered in 
a garret window. The vast size of the building, 
with its gloom and its deathly silence, struck a chill 
to the heart. Even Thaddeus Sholto seemed ill at 
ease, and the lantern quivered and rattled in his 
hand. 

"I cannot understand it," he said. "There must 
be some mistake. I distinctly told Bartholomew 
that we should be here, and yet there is no light in 
his window. I do not know what to make of it." 

"Does he always guard the premises in this 
way?" asked Holmes. 

"Yes; he has followed my father's custom. He 
was the favorite son, you know, and I sometimes 
think that my father may have told him more than 
he ever told me. That is Bartholomew's window 
up there where the moonshine strikes. It is quite 
bright, but there is no light from within, I think." 

"None," said Holmes. "But I see the glint of a 
light in that little window beside the door." 

"Ah, that is the housekeeper's room. That is 
where old Mrs. Bernstone sits. She can tell us all 
about it. But perhaps you would not mind wait- 
ing here for a minute or two, for if we all go in 
together and she has no word of our coming she 
may be alarmed. But hush! what is that?" 

He held up the lantern, and his hand shook 
until the circles of light flickered and wavered all 
round us. Miss Morstan seized my wrist, and 
we all stood with thumping hearts, straining our 
ears. From the great black house there sounded 
through the silent night the saddest and most piti- 
ful of sounds, — the shrill, broken whimpering of a 
frightened woman. 

"It is Mrs. Bernstone," said Sholto. "She is the 
only woman in the house. Wait here. I shall be 
back in a moment." He hurried for the door, and 
knocked in his peculiar way. We could see a tall 
old woman admit him, and sway with pleasure at 
the very sight of him. 

"Oh, Mr. Thaddeus, sir, I am so glad you have 
come! I am so glad you have come, Mr. Thaddeus, 
sir!" We heard her reiterated rejoicings until the 
door was closed and her voice died away into a 
muffled monotone. 

Our guide had left us the lantern. Holmes 
swung it slowly round, and peered keenly at the 
house, and at the great rubbish-heaps which cum- 
bered the grounds. Miss Morstan and I stood to- 
gether, and her hand was in mine. A wondrous 
subtle thing is love, for here were we two who 
had never seen each other before that day, between 



whom no word or even look of affection had ever 
passed, and yet now in an hour of trouble our 
hands instinctively sought for each other. I have 
marvelled at it since, but at the time it seemed the 
most natural thing that I should go out to her so, 
and, as she has often told me, there was in her also 
the instinct to turn to me for comfort and protec- 
tion. So we stood hand in hand, like two children, 
and there was peace in our hearts for all the dark 
things that surrounded us. 

"What a strange place!" she said, looking 
round. 

"It looks as though all the moles in England 
had been let loose in it. I have seen something of 
the sort on the side of a hill near Ballarat, where 
the prospectors had been at work." 

"And from the same cause," said Holmes. 
"These are the traces of the treasure-seekers. You 
must remember that they were six years looking 
for it. No wonder that the grounds look like a 
gravel-pit." 

At that moment the door of the house burst 
open, and Thaddeus Sholto came running out, 
with his hands thrown forward and terror in his 
eyes. 

"There is something amiss with Bartholomew!" 
he cried. "I am frightened! My nerves cannot 
stand it." He was, indeed, half blubbering with 
fear, and his twitching feeble face peeping out 
from the great Astrakhan collar had the helpless 
appealing expression of a terrified child. 

"Come into the house," said Holmes, in his 
crisp, firm way. 

"Yes, do!" pleaded Thaddeus Sholto. "I really 
do not feel equal to giving directions." 

We all followed him into the housekeeper's 
room, which stood upon the left-hand side of the 
passage. The old woman was pacing up and down 
with a scared look and restless picking fingers, 
but the sight of Miss Morstan appeared to have 
a soothing effect upon her. 

"God bless your sweet calm face!" she cried, 
with an hysterical sob. "It does me good to see 
you. Oh, but I have been sorely tried this day!" 

Our companion patted her thin, work-worn 
hand, and murmured some few words of kindly 
womanly comfort which brought the color back 
into the others bloodless cheeks. 

"Master has locked himself in and will now an- 
swer me," she explained. "All day I have waited to 
hear from him, for he often likes to be alone; but 
an hour ago I feared that something was amiss, so 



80 



The Sign of the Four 



I went up and peeped through the key-hole. You 
must go up, Mr. Thaddeus, — you must go up and 
look for yourself. I have seen Mr. Bartholomew 
Sholto in joy and in sorrow for ten long years, but 
I never saw him with such a face on him as that. " 

Sherlock Holmes took the lamp and led the 
way, for Thaddeus Sholto's teeth were chattering 
in his head. So shaken was he that I had to pass 
my hand under his arm as we went up the stairs, 
for his knees were trembling under him. Twice 
as we ascended Holmes whipped his lens out of 
his pocket and carefully examined marks which 
appeared to me to be mere shapeless smudges of 
dust upon the cocoa-nut matting which served as 
a stair-carpet. He walked slowly from step to step, 
holding the lamp, and shooting keen glances to 
right and left. Miss Morstan had remained behind 
with the frightened housekeeper. 

The third flight of stairs ended in a straight pas- 
sage of some length, with a great picture in Indian 
tapestry upon the right of it and three doors upon 
the left. Holmes advanced along it in the same 
slow and methodical way, while we kept close at 
his heels, with our long black shadows stream- 
ing backwards down the corridor. The third door 
was that which we were seeking. Holmes knocked 
without receiving any answer, and then tried to 
turn the handle and force it open. It was locked 
on the inside, however, and by a broad and pow- 
erful bolt, as we could see when we set our lamp 
up against it. The key being turned, however, the 
hole was not entirely closed. Sherlock Holmes bent 
down to it, and instantly rose again with a sharp 
intaking of the breath. 

"There is something devilish in this, Watson," 
said he, more moved than I had ever before seen 
him. "What do you make of it?" 

I stooped to the hole, and recoiled in horror. 
Moonlight was streaming into the room, and it was 
bright with a vague and shifty radiance. Look- 
ing straight at me, and suspended, as it were, in 
the air, for all beneath was in shadow, there hung 
a face, — the very face of our companion Thad- 
deus. There was the same high, shining head, the 
same circular bristle of red hair, the same bloodless 
countenance. The features were set, however, in a 
horrible smile, a fixed and unnatural grin, which 
in that still and moonlit room was more jarring 
to the nerves than any scowl or contortion. So like 
was the face to that of our little friend that I looked 
round at him to make sure that he was indeed with 
us. Then I recalled to mind that he had mentioned 
to us that his brother and he were twins. 



"This is terrible!" I said to Holmes. "What is to 
be done?" 

"The door must come down," he answered, 
and, springing against it, he put all his weight 
upon the lock. It creaked and groaned, but did not 
yield. Together we flung ourselves upon it once 
more, and this time it gave way with a sudden 
snap, and we found ourselves within Bartholomew 
Sholto's chamber. 

It appeared to have been fitted up as a chemical 
laboratory. A double line of glass-stoppered bot- 
tles was drawn up upon the wall opposite the door, 
and the table was littered over with Bunsen burn- 
ers, test-tubes, and retorts. In the corners stood 
carboys of acid in wicker baskets. One of these ap- 
peared to leak or to have been broken, for a stream 
of dark-colored liquid had trickled out from it, and 
the air was heavy with a peculiarly pungent, tar- 
like odor. A set of steps stood at one side of the 
room, in the midst of a litter of lath and plaster, 
and above them there was an opening in the ceil- 
ing large enough for a man to pass through. At 
the foot of the steps a long coil of rope was thrown 
carelessly together. 

By the table, in a wooden arm-chair, the mas- 
ter of the house was seated all in a heap, with 
his head sunk upon his left shoulder, and that 
ghastly, inscrutable smile upon his face. He was 
stiff and cold, and had clearly been dead many 
hours. It seemed to me that not only his features 
but all his limbs were twisted and turned in the 
most fantastic fashion. By his hand upon the table 
there lay a peculiar instrument, — a brown, close- 
grained stick, with a stone head like a hammer, 
rudely lashed on with coarse twine. Beside it 
was a torn sheet of note-paper with some words 
scrawled upon it. Holmes glanced at it, and then 
handed it to me. 

"You see," he said, with a significant raising of 
the eyebrows. 

In the light of the lantern I read, with a thrill of 
horror, "The sign of the four." 

"In God's name, what does it all mean?" I 
asked. 

"It means murder," said he, stooping over the 
dead man. "Ah, I expected it. Look here!" He 
pointed to what looked like a long, dark thorn 
stuck in the skin just above the ear. 

"It looks like a thorn," said I. 

"It is a thorn. You may pick it out. But be care- 
ful, for it is poisoned." 

I took it up between my finger and thumb. It 
came away from the skin so readily that hardly 



81 



The Sign of the Four 



any mark was left behind. One tiny speck of blood 
showed where the puncture had been. 

"This is all an insoluble mystery to me," said I. 
"It grows darker instead of clearer." 

"On the contrary," he answered, "it clears ev- 
ery instant. I only require a few missing links to 
have an entirely connected case." 

We had almost forgotten our companion's pres- 
ence since we entered the chamber. He was still 
standing in the door-way, the very picture of terror, 
wringing his hands and moaning to himself. Sud- 
denly, however, he broke out into a sharp, queru- 
lous cry. 

"The treasure is gone!" he said. "They have 
robbed him of the treasure! There is the hole 
through which we lowered it. I helped him to do 
it! I was the last person who saw him! I left him 
here last night, and I heard him lock the door as I 
came down-stairs." 



"What time was that?" 

"It was ten o'clock. And now he is dead, and 
the police will be called in, and I shall be sus- 
pected of having had a hand in it. Oh, yes, I am 
sure I shall. But you don't think so, gentlemen? 
Surely you don't think that it was I? Is it likely 
that I would have brought you here if it were I? 
Oh, dear! oh, dear! I know that I shall go mad!" 
He jerked his arms and stamped his feet in a kind 
of convulsive frenzy. 

"You have no reason for fear, Mr. Sholto," said 
Holmes, kindly, putting his hand upon his shoul- 
der. "Take my advice, and drive down to the sta- 
tion to report this matter to the police. Offer to 
assist them in every way. We shall wait here until 
your return." 

The little man obeyed in a half-stupefied fash- 
ion, and we heard him stumbling down the stairs 
in the dark. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Sherlock Holmes Gives a Demonstration 



"Now, Watson," said Holmes, rubbing his 
hands, "we have half an hour to ourselves. Let 
us make good use of it. My case is, as I have told 
you, almost complete; but we must not err on the 
side of over-confidence. Simple as the case seems 
now, there may be something deeper underlying 
it." 

"Simple!" I ejaculated. 

"Surely," said he, with something of the air of 
a clinical professor expounding to his class. "Just 
sit in the corner there, that your footprints may 
not complicate matters. Now to work! In the first 
place, how did these folk come, and how did they 
go? The door has not been opened since last night. 
How of the window?" He carried the lamp across 
to it, muttering his observations aloud the while, 
but addressing them to himself rather than to me. 
"Window is snibbed on the inner side. Framework 
is solid. No hinges at the side. Let us open it. No 
water-pipe near. Roof quite out of reach. Yet a 
man has mounted by the window. It rained a lit- 
tle last night. Here is the print of a foot in mould 
upon the sill. And here is a circular muddy mark, 



and here again upon the floor, and here again by 
the table. See here, Watson! This is really a very 
pretty demonstration." 

I looked at the round, well-defined muddy 
discs. "This is not a footmark," said I. 

"It is something much more valuable to us. It 
is the impression of a wooden stump. You see here 
on the sill is the boot-mark, a heavy boot with the 
broad metal heel, and beside it is the mark of the 
timber-toe." 

"It is the wooden-legged man." 

"Quite so. But there has been some one else, — a 
very able and efficient ally. Could you scale that 
wall, doctor?" 

I looked out of the open window. The moon 
still shone brightly on that angle of the house. We 
were a good sixty feet from the round, and, look 
where I would, I could see no foothold, nor as 
much as a crevice in the brick-work. 

"It is absolutely impossible," I answered. 

"Without aid it is so. But suppose you had a 
friend up here who lowered you this good stout 



82 



The Sign of the Four 



rope which I see in the corner, securing one end 
of it to this great hook in the wall. Then, I think, 
if you were an active man, you might swarm up, 
wooden leg and all. You would depart, of course, 
in the same fashion, and your ally would draw up 
the rope, untie it from the hook, shut the window, 
snib it on the inside, and get away in the way that 
he originally came. As a minor point it may be 
noted," he continued, fingering the rope, "that our 
wooden-legged friend, though a fair climber, was 
not a professional sailor. His hands were far from 
horny. My lens discloses more than one blood- 
mark, especially towards the end of the rope, from 
which I gather that he slipped down with such ve- 
locity that he took the skin off his hand." 

"This is all very well," said I, "but the thing be- 
comes more unintelligible than ever. How about 
this mysterious ally? How came he into the 
room?" 

"Yes, the ally!" repeated Holmes, pensively. 
"There are features of interest about this ally. He 
lifts the case from the regions of the commonplace. 
I fancy that this ally breaks fresh ground in the 
annals of crime in this country, — though parallel 
cases suggest themselves from India, and, if my 
memory serves me, from Senegambia." 

"How came he, then?" I reiterated. "The door 
is locked, the window is inaccessible. Was it 
through the chimney?" 

"The grate is much too small," he answered. "I 
had already considered that possibility." 

"How then?" I persisted. 

"You will not apply my precept," he said, shak- 
ing his head. "How often have I said to you 
that when you have eliminated the impossible 
whatever remains, however improbable, must be the 
truth? We know that he did not come through the 
door, the window, or the chimney. We also know 
that he could not have been concealed in the room, 
as there is no concealment possible. Whence, then, 
did he come?" 

"He came through the hole in the roof," I cried. 

"Of course he did. He must have done so. If 
you will have the kindness to hold the lamp for 
me, we shall now extend our researches to the 
room above, — the secret room in which the trea- 
sure was found." 

He mounted the steps, and, seizing a rafter 
with either hand, he swung himself up into the 
garret. Then, lying on his face, he reached down 
for the lamp and held it while I followed him. 

The chamber in which we found ourselves was 
about ten feet one way and six the other. The 



floor was formed by the rafters, with thin lath-and- 
plaster between, so that in walking one had to step 
from beam to beam. The roof ran up to an apex, 
and was evidently the inner shell of the true roof 
of the house. There was no furniture of any sort, 
and the accumulated dust of years lay thick upon 
the floor. 

"Here you are, you see," said Sherlock Holmes, 
putting his hand against the sloping wall. "This is 
a trap-door which leads out on to the roof. I can 
press it back, and here is the roof itself, sloping 
at a gentle angle. This, then, is the way by which 
Number One entered. Let us see if we can find one 
other traces of his individuality. " 

He held down the lamp to the floor, and as he 
did so I saw for the second time that night a star- 
tled, surprised look come over his face. For my- 
self, as I followed his gaze my skin was cold under 
my clothes. The floor was covered thickly with the 
prints of a naked foot, — clear, well defined, per- 
fectly formed, but scarce half the size of those of 
an ordinary man. 

"Holmes," I said, in a whisper, "a child has 
done the horrid thing." 

He had recovered his self-possession in an in- 
stant. "I was staggered for the moment," he said, 
"but the thing is quite natural. My memory failed 
me, or I should have been able to foretell it. There 
is nothing more to be learned here. Let us go 
down." 

"What is your theory, then, as to those foot- 
marks?" I asked, eagerly, when we had regained 
the lower room once more. 

"My dear Watson, try a little analysis yourself," 
said he, with a touch of impatience. "You know 
my methods. Apply them, and it will be instruc- 
tive to compare results." 

"I cannot conceive anything which will cover 
the facts," I answered. 

"It will be clear enough to you soon," he said, 
in an off-hand way. "I think that there is noth- 
ing else of importance here, but I will look." He 
whipped out his lens and a tape measure, and hur- 
ried about the room on his knees, measuring, com- 
paring, examining, with his long thin nose only a 
few inches from the planks, and his beady eyes 
gleaming and deep-set like those of a bird. So 
swift, silent, and furtive were his movements, like 
those of a trained blood-hound picking out a scent, 
that I could not but think what a terrible criminal 
he would have made had he turned his energy and 
sagacity against the law, instead of exerting them 



83 



The Sign of the Four 



in its defense. As he hunted about, he kept mut- 
tering to himself, and finally he broke out into a 
loud crow of delight. 

"We are certainly in luck," said he. "We ought 
to have very little trouble now. Number One has 
had the misfortune to tread in the creosote. You 
can see the outline of the edge of his small foot 
here at the side of this evil-smelling mess. The car- 
boy has been cracked, You see, and the stuff has 
leaked out." 

"What then?" I asked. 

"Why, we have got him, that's all," said he. "I 
know a dog that would follow that scent to the 
world's end. If a pack can track a trailed her- 
ring across a shire, how far can a specially-trained 
hound follow so pungent a smell as this? It sounds 
like a sum in the rule of three. The answer should 
give us the — But halloo! here are the accredited 
representatives of the law." 

Heavy steps and the clamor of loud voices were 
audible from below, and the hall door shut with a 
loud crash. 

"Before they come," said Holmes, "just put 
your hand here on this poor fellow's arm, and here 
on his leg. What do you feel?" 

"The muscles are as hard as a board," I an- 
swered. 

"Quite so. They are in a state of extreme con- 
traction, far exceeding the usual rigor mortis. Cou- 
pled with this distortion of the face, this Hippo- 
cratic smile, or 'risus sardonicus,' as the old writers 
called it, what conclusion would it suggest to your 
mind?" 

"Death from some powerful vegetable alka- 
loid," I answered, — "some strychnine-like sub- 
stance which would produce tetanus." 

"That was the idea which occurred to me the 
instant I saw the drawn muscles of the face. On 
getting into the room I at once looked for the 
means by which the poison had entered the sys- 
tem. As you saw, I discovered a thorn which had 
been driven or shot with no great force into the 
scalp. You observe that the part struck was that 
which would be turned towards the hole in the 
ceiling if the man were erect in his chair. Now ex- 
amine the thorn." 

I took it up gingerly and held it in the light of 
the lantern. It was long, sharp, and black, with a 
glazed look near the point as though some gummy 
substance had dried upon it. The blunt end had 
been trimmed and rounded off with a knife. 

"Is that an English thorn?" he asked. 



"No, it certainly is not." 

"With all these data you should be able to draw 
some just inference. But here are the regulars: so 
the auxiliary forces may beat a retreat. " 

As he spoke, the steps which had been coming 
nearer sounded loudly on the passage, and a very 
stout, portly man in a gray suit strode heavily into 
the room. He was red-faced, burly and plethoric, 
with a pair of very small twinkling eyes which 
looked keenly out from between swollen and puffy 
pouches. He was closely followed by an inspector 
in uniform, and by the still palpitating Thaddeus 
Sholto. 

"Here's a business!" he cried, in a muffled, 
husky voice. "Here's a pretty business! But who 
are all these? Why, the house seems to be as full 
as a rabbit-warren!" 

"I think you must recollect me, Mr. Athelney 
Jones," said Holmes, quietly. 

"Why, of course I do!" he wheezed. "It's Mr. 
Sherlock Holmes, the theorist. Remember you! I'll 
never forget how you lectured us all on causes and 
inferences and effects in the Bishopgate jewel case. 
It's true you set us on the right track; but you'll 
own now that it was more by good luck than good 
guidance." 

"It was a piece of very simple reasoning." 

"Oh, come, now, come! Never be ashamed to 
own up. But what is all this? Bad business! Bad 
business! Stern facts here, — no room for theories. 
How lucky that I happened to be out at Norwood 
over another case! I was at the station when the 
message arrived. What d'you think the man died 
of?" 

"Oh, this is hardly a case for me to theorize 
over," said Holmes, dryly. 

"No, no. Still, we can't deny that you hit the 
nail on the head sometimes. Dear me! Door 
locked, I understand. Jewels worth half a million 
missing. How was the window?" 

"Fastened; but there are steps on the sill." 

"Well, well, if it was fastened the steps could 
have nothing to do with the matter. That's com- 
mon sense. Man might have died in a fit; but then 
the jewels are missing. Ha! I have a theory. These 
flashes come upon me at times. — Just step outside, 
sergeant, and you, Mr. Sholto. Your friend can re- 
main. — What do you think of this, Holmes? Sholto 
was, on his own confession, with his brother last 
night. The brother died in a fit, on which Sholto 
walked off with the treasure. How's that?" 



84 



The Sign of the Four 



"On which the dead man very considerately 
got up and locked the door on the inside." 

"Hum! There's a flaw there. Let us apply com- 
mon sense to the matter. This Thaddeus Sholto 
was with his brother; there was a quarrel; so much 
we know. The brother is dead and the jewels are 
gone. So much also we know. No one saw the 
brother from the time Thaddeus left him. His bed 
had not been slept in. Thaddeus is evidently in 
a most disturbed state of mind. His appearance 
is — well, not attractive. You see that I am weaving 
my web round Thaddeus. The net begins to close 
upon him." 

"You are not quite in possession of the facts 
yet," said Holmes. "This splinter of wood, which I 
have every reason to believe to be poisoned, was in 
the man's scalp where you still see the mark; this 
card, inscribed as you see it, was on the table; and 
beside it lay this rather curious stone-headed in- 
strument. How does all that fit into your theory?" 

"Confirms it in every respect," said the fat de- 
tective, pompously. "House is full of Indian cu- 
riosities. Thaddeus brought this up, and if this 
splinter be poisonous Thaddeus may as well have 
made murderous use of it as any other man. The 
card is some hocus-pocus, — a blind, as like as not. 
The only question is, how did he depart? Ah, of 
course, here is a hole in the roof." With great ac- 
tivity, considering his bulk, he sprang up the steps 
and squeezed through into the garret, and imme- 
diately afterwards we heard his exulting voice pro- 
claiming that he had found the trap-door. 

"He can find something," remarked Holmes, 
shrugging his shoulders. "He has occasional glim- 
merings of reason. II n'y a pas des sots si incommodes 
que ceux qui ont de Y esprit!" 

"You see!" said Athelney Jones, reappearing 
down the steps again. "Facts are better than mere 
theories, after all. My view of the case is con- 
firmed. There is a trap-door communicating with 
the roof, and it is partly open." 

"It was I who opened it." 

"Oh, indeed! You did notice it, then?" He 
seemed a little crestfallen at the discovery. "Well, 
whoever noticed it, it shows how our gentleman 
got away. Inspector!" 

"Yes, sir," from the passage. 

"Ask Mr. Sholto to step this way. — Mr. Sholto, it 
is my duty to inform you that anything which you 
may say will be used against you. I arrest you in 
the queen's name as being concerned in the death 
of your brother. " 



"There, now! Didn't I tell you!" cried the poor 
little man, throwing out his hands, and looking 
from one to the other of us. 

"Don't trouble yourself about it, Mr. Sholto," 
said Holmes. "I think that I can engage to clear 
you of the charge." 

"Don't promise too much, Mr. Theorist, — don't 
promise too much!" snapped the detective. "You 
may find it a harder matter than you think." 

"Not only will I clear him, Mr. Jones, but I will 
make you a free present of the name and descrip- 
tion of one of the two people who were in this 
room last night. His name, I have every reason to 
believe, is Jonathan Small. He is a poorly-educated 
man, small, active, with his right leg off, and wear- 
ing a wooden stump which is worn away upon the 
inner side. His left boot has a coarse, square-toed 
sole, with an iron band round the heel. He is a 
middle-aged man, much sunburned, and has been 
a convict. These few indications may be of some 
assistance to you, coupled with the fact that there 
is a good deal of skin missing from the palm of his 
hand. The other man — " 

"Ah! the other man — ?" asked Athelney Jones, 
in a sneering voice, but impressed none the less, 
as I could easily see, by the precision of the other 's 
manner. 

"Is a rather curious person," said Sherlock 
Holmes, turning upon his heel. "I hope before 
very long to be able to introduce you to the pair 
of them. A word with you, Watson." 

He led me out to the head of the stair. "This 
unexpected occurrence," he said, "has caused us 
rather to lose sight of the original purpose of our 
journey" 

"I have just been thinking so," I answered. "It 
is not right that Miss Morstan should remain in 
this stricken house." 

"No. You must escort her home. She lives with 
Mrs. Cecil Forrester, in Lower Camberwell: so it is 
not very far. I will wait for you here if you will 
drive out again. Or perhaps you are too tired?" 

"By no means. I don't think I could rest until I 
know more of this fantastic business. I have seen 
something of the rough side of life, but I give you 
my word that this quick succession of strange sur- 
prises to-night has shaken my nerve completely. 
I should like, however, to see the matter through 
with you, now that I have got so far." 

"Your presence will be of great service to me," 
he answered. "We shall work the case out inde- 
pendently, and leave this fellow Jones to exult over 
any mare's-nest which he may choose to construct. 



85 



The Sign of the Four 



When you have dropped Miss Morstan I wish you 
to go on to No. 3 Pinchin Lane, down near the 
water's edge at Lambeth. The third house on the 
right-hand side is a bird-stuffer's: Sherman is the 
name. You will see a weasel holding a young rab- 
bit in the window. Knock old Sherman up, and 
tell him, with my compliments, that I want Toby 
at once. You will bring Toby back in the cab with 
you." 

"A dog, I suppose." 

"Yes, — a queer mongrel, with a most amazing 
power of scent. I would rather have Toby's help 



than that of the whole detective force of London." 

"I shall bring him, then," said I. "It is one now. 
I ought to be back before three, if I can get a fresh 
horse." 

"And I," said Holmes, "shall see what I can 
learn from Mrs. Bernstone, and from the Indian 
servant, who, Mr. Thaddeus tell me, sleeps in the 
next garret. Then I shall study the great Jones's 
methods and listen to his not too delicate sarcasms. 
'Wir sind gewohnt, daft die Menschen verhohnen was 
sie nicht verstehen.' Goethe is always pithy." 



CHAPTER VII. 

The Episode of the Barrel 



The police had brought a cab with them, and 
in this I escorted Miss Morstan back to her home. 
After the angelic fashion of women, she had borne 
trouble with a calm face as long as there was 
some one weaker than herself to support, and I 
had found her bright and placid by the side of 
the frightened housekeeper. In the cab, however, 
she first turned faint, and then burst into a pas- 
sion of weeping, — so sorely had she been tried by 
the adventures of the night. She has told me since 
that she thought me cold and distant upon that 
journey She little guessed the struggle within my 
breast, or the effort of self-restraint which held me 
back. My sympathies and my love went out to 
her, even as my hand had in the garden. I felt 
that years of the conventionalities of life could not 
teach me to know her sweet, brave nature as had 
this one day of strange experiences. Yet there were 
two thoughts which sealed the words of affection 
upon my lips. She was weak and helpless, shaken 
in mind and nerve. It was to take her at a disad- 
vantage to obtrude love upon her at such a time. 
Worse still, she was rich. If Holmes's researches 
were successful, she would be an heiress. Was 
it fair, was it honorable, that a half-pay surgeon 
should take such advantage of an intimacy which 
chance had brought about? Might she not look 
upon me as a mere vulgar fortune-seeker? I could 
not bear to risk that such a thought should cross 
her mind. This Agra treasure intervened like an 
impassable barrier between us. 



It was nearly two o'clock when we reached 
Mrs. Cecil Forrester's. The servants had retired 
hours ago, but Mrs. Forrester had been so inter- 
ested by the strange message which Miss Morstan 
had received that she had sat up in the hope of 
her return. She opened the door herself, a middle- 
aged, graceful woman, and it gave me joy to see 
how tenderly her arm stole round the other 's waist 
and how motherly was the voice in which she 
greeted her. She was clearly no mere paid depen- 
dant, but an honored friend. I was introduced, and 
Mrs. Forrester earnestly begged me to step in and 
tell her our adventures. I explained, however, the 
importance of my errand, and promised faithfully 
to call and report any progress which we might 
make with the case. As we drove away I stole a 
glance back, and I still seem to see that little group 
on the step, the two graceful, clinging figures, the 
half-opened door, the hall light shining through 
stained glass, the barometer, and the bright stair- 
rods. It was soothing to catch even that passing 
glimpse of a tranquil English home in the midst of 
the wild, dark business which had absorbed us. 

And the more I thought of what had happened, 
the wilder and darker it grew. I reviewed the 
whole extraordinary sequence of events as I rat- 
tled on through the silent gas-lit streets. There was 
the original problem: that at least was pretty clear 
now. The death of Captain Morstan, the sending 
of the pearls, the advertisement, the letter, — we 
had had light upon all those events. They had 



86 



The Sign of the Four 



only led us, however, to a deeper and far more 
tragic mystery. The Indian treasure, the curious 
plan found among Morstan's baggage, the strange 
scene at Major Sholto's death, the rediscovery of 
the treasure immediately followed by the murder 
of the discoverer, the very singular accompani- 
ments to the crime, the footsteps, the remarkable 
weapons, the words upon the card, corresponding 
with those upon Captain Morstan's chart, — here 
was indeed a labyrinth in which a man less singu- 
larly endowed than my fellow-lodger might well 
despair of ever finding the clue. 

Pinchin Lane was a row of shabby two-storied 
brick houses in the lower quarter of Lambeth. I 
had to knock for some time at No. 3 before I could 
make my impression. At last, however, there was 
the glint of a candle behind the blind, and a face 
looked out at the upper window. 

"Go on, you drunken vagabone," said the face. 
"If you kick up any more row I'll open the kennels 
and let out forty-three dogs upon you." 

"If you'll let one out it's just what I have come 
for," said I. 

"Go on!" yelled the voice. "So help me gra- 
cious, I have a wiper in the bag, an' I'll drop it on 
your 'ead if you don't hook it." 

"But I want a dog," I cried. 

"I won't be argued with!" shouted Mr. Sher- 
man. "Now stand clear, for when I say 'three,' 
down goes the wiper." 

"Mr. Sherlock Holmes — " I began, but the 
words had a most magical effect, for the window 
instantly slammed down, and within a minute the 
door was unbarred and open. Mr. Sherman was 
a lanky, lean old man, with stooping shoulders, a 
stringy neck, and blue-tinted glasses. 

"A friend of Mr. Sherlock is always welcome," 
said he. "Step in, sir. Keep clear of the badger; for 
he bites. Ah, naughty, naughty, would you take a 
nip at the gentleman?" This to a stoat which thrust 
its wicked head and red eyes between the bars of 
its cage. "Don't mind that, sir: it's only a slow- 
worm. It hain't got no fangs, so I gives it the run 
o' the room, for it keeps the bettles down. You 
must not mind my bein' just a little short wi' you at 
first, for I'm guyed at by the children, and there's 
many a one just comes down this lane to knock me 
up. What was it that Mr. Sherlock Holmes wanted, 



sir?'" 



'He wanted a dog of yours. 
"Ah! that would be Toby." 
'Yes, Toby was the name." 



"Toby lives at No. 7 on the left here." He moved 
slowly forward with his candle among the queer 
animal family which he had gathered round him. 
In the uncertain, shadowy light I could see dimly 
that there were glancing, glimmering eyes peeping 
down at us from every cranny and corner. Even 
the rafters above our heads were lined by solemn 
fowls, who lazily shifted their weight from one leg 
to the other as our voices disturbed their slumbers. 

Toby proved to an ugly, long-haired, lop-eared 
creature, half spaniel and half lurcher, brown- 
and-white in color, with a very clumsy waddling 
gait. It accepted after some hesitation a lump 
of sugar which the old naturalist handed to me, 
and, having thus sealed an alliance, it followed 
me to the cab, and made no difficulties about ac- 
companying me. It had just struck three on the 
Palace clock when I found myself back once more 
at Pondicherry Lodge. The ex-prize-fighter Mc- 
Murdo had, I found, been arrested as an accessory, 
and both he and Mr. Sholto had been marched off 
to the station. Two constables guarded the narrow 
gate, but they allowed me to pass with the dog on 
my mentioning the detective's name. 

Holmes was standing on the door-step, with 
his hands in his pockets, smoking his pipe. 

"Ah, you have him there!" said he. "Good dog, 
then! Athelney Jones has gone. We have had an 
immense display of energy since you left. He has 
arrested not only friend Thaddeus, but the gate- 
keeper, the housekeeper, and the Indian servant. 
We have the place to ourselves, but for a sergeant 
up-stairs. Leave the dog here, and come up." 

We tied Toby to the hall table, and reascended 
the stairs. The room was as he had left it, save that 
a sheet had been draped over the central figure. A 
weary-looking police-sergeant reclined in the cor- 
ner. 

"Lend me your bull's-eye, sergeant," said my 
companion. "Now tie this bit of card round my 
neck, so as to hang it in front of me. Thank you. 
Now I must kick off my boots and stockings. — Just 
you carry them down with you, Watson. I am go- 
ing to do a little climbing. And dip my handker- 
chief into the creasote. That will do. Now come 
up into the garret with me for a moment." 

We clambered up through the hole. Holmes 
turned his light once more upon the footsteps in 
the dust. 

"I wish you particularly to notice these foot- 
marks," he said. "Do you observe anything note- 
worthy about them?" 



87 



The Sign of the Four 



"They belong," I said, "to a child or a small 
woman." 

"Apart from their size, though. Is there nothing 
else?" 

"They appear to be much as other footmarks." 

"Not at all. Look here! This is the print of a 
right foot in the dust. Now I make one with my 
naked foot beside it. What is the chief difference?" 

"Your toes are all cramped together. The other 
print has each toe distinctly divided." 

"Quite so. That is the point. Bear that in mind. 
Now, would you kindly step over to that flap- 
window and smell the edge of the wood-work? I 
shall stay here, as I have this handkerchief in my 
hand." 

I did as he directed, and was instantly con- 
scious of a strong tarry smell. 

"That is where he put his foot in getting out. 
If you can trace him, I should think that Toby will 
have no difficulty. Now run down-stairs, loose the 
dog, and look out for Blondin." 

By the time that I got out into the grounds 
Sherlock Holmes was on the roof, and I could see 
him like an enormous glow-worm crawling very 
slowly along the ridge. I lost sight of him behind 
a stack of chimneys, but he presently reappeared, 
and then vanished once more upon the opposite 
side. When I made my way round there I found 
him seated at one of the corner eaves. 

"That You, Watson?" he cried. 

"Yes." 

"This is the place. What is that black thing 
down there?" 

"A water-barrel." 

"Top on it?" 

"Yes." 

"No sign of a ladder?" 

"No." 

"Confound the fellow! It's a most break-neck 
place. I ought to be able to come down where he 
could climb up. The water-pipe feels pretty firm. 
Here goes, anyhow." 

There was a scuffling of feet, and the lantern 
began to come steadily down the side of the wall. 
Then with a light spring he came on to the barrel, 
and from there to the earth. 

"It was easy to follow him," he said, drawing 
on his stockings and boots. "Tiles were loosened 
the whole way along, and in his hurry he had 



dropped this. It confirms my diagnosis, as you 
doctors express it." 

The object which he held up to me was a small 
pocket or pouch woven out of colored grasses and 
with a few tawdry beads strung round it. In shape 
and size it was not unlike a cigarette-case. Inside 
were half a dozen spines of dark wood, sharp at 
one end and rounded at the other, like that which 
had struck Bartholomew Sholto. 

"They are hellish things," said he. "Look out 
that you don't prick yourself. I'm delighted to 
have them, for the chances are that they are all he 
has. There is the less fear of you or me finding 
one in our skin before long. I would sooner face a 
Martini bullet, myself. Are you game for a six-mile 
trudge, Watson?" 

"Certainly," I answered. 

"Your leg will stand it?" 

"Oh, yes." 

"Here you are, doggy! Good old Toby! Smell 
it, Toby, smell it!" He pushed the creasote hand- 
kerchief under the dog's nose, while the creature 
stood with its fluffy legs separated, and with a 
most comical cock to its head, like a connoisseur 
sniffing the bouquet of a famous vintage. Holmes 
then threw the handkerchief to a distance, fastened 
a stout cord to the mongrel's collar, and let him to 
the foot of the water-barrel. The creature instantly 
broke into a succession of high, tremulous yelps, 
and, with his nose on the ground, and his tail in 
the air, pattered off upon the trail at a pace which 
strained his leash and kept us at the top of our 
speed. 

The east had been gradually whitening, and we 
could now see some distance in the cold gray light. 
The square, massive house, with its black, empty 
windows and high, bare walls, towered up, sad 
and forlorn, behind us. Our course let right across 
the grounds, in and out among the trenches and 
pits with which they were scarred and intersected. 
The whole place, with its scattered dirt-heaps and 
ill-grown shrubs, had a blighted, ill-omened look 
which harmonized with the black tragedy which 
hung over it. 

On reaching the boundary wall Toby ran along, 
whining eagerly, underneath its shadow, and 
stopped finally in a corner screened by a young 
beech. Where the two walls joined, several bricks 
had been loosened, and the crevices left were worn 
down and rounded upon the lower side, as though 
they had frequently been used as a ladder. Holmes 
clambered up, and, taking the dog from me, he 
dropped it over upon the other side. 



The Sign of the Four 



"There's the print of wooden-leg's hand," he 
remarked, as I mounted up beside him. "You see 
the slight smudge of blood upon the white plaster. 
What a lucky thing it is that we have had no very 
heavy rain since yesterday! The scent will lie upon 
the road in spite of their eight-and-twenty hours' 
start." 

I confess that I had my doubts myself when I 
reflected upon the great traffic which had passed 
along the London road in the interval. My fears 
were soon appeased, however. Toby never hes- 
itated or swerved, but waddled on in his pecu- 
liar rolling fashion. Clearly, the pungent smell of 
the creasote rose high above all other contending 
scents. 

"Do not imagine," said Holmes, "that I depend 
for my success in this case upon the mere chance 
of one of these fellows having put his foot in the 
chemical. I have knowledge now which would 
enable me to trace them in many different ways. 
This, however, is the readiest and, since fortune 
has put it into our hands, I should be culpable if 
I neglected it. It has, however, prevented the case 
from becoming the pretty little intellectual prob- 
lem which it at one time promised to be. There 
might have been some credit to be gained out of it, 
but for this too palpable clue." 

"There is credit, and to spare," said I. "I as- 
sure you, Holmes, that I marvel at the means by 
which you obtain your results in this case, even 
more than I did in the Jefferson Hope Murder. The 
thing seems to me to be deeper and more inexpli- 
cable. How, for example, could you describe with 
such confidence the wooden-legged man?" 

"Pshaw, my dear boy! it was simplicity itself. 
I don't wish to be theatrical. It is all patent and 
above-board. Two officers who are in command 
of a convict-guard learn an important secret as 
to buried treasure. A map is drawn for them by 
an Englishman named Jonathan Small. You re- 
member that we saw the name upon the chart in 
Captain Morstan's possession. He had signed it 
in behalf of himself and his associates, — the sign 
of the four, as he somewhat dramatically called 
it. Aided by this chart, the officers — or one of 
them — gets the treasure and brings it to England, 
leaving, we will suppose, some condition under 
which he received it unfulfilled. Now, then, why 
did not Jonathan Small get the treasure himself? 
The answer is obvious. The chart is dated at a time 
when Morstan was brought into close association 
with convicts. Jonathan Small did not get the trea- 
sure because he and his associates were themselves 
convicts and could not get away." 



"But that is mere speculation," said I. 

"It is more than that. It is the only hypothesis 
which covers the facts. Let us see how it fits in 
with the sequel. Major Sholto remains at peace for 
some years, happy in the possession of his trea- 
sure. Then he receives a letter from India which 
gives him a great fright. What was that?" 

"A letter to say that the men whom he had 
wronged had been set free." 

"Or had escaped. That is much more likely, for 
he would have known what their term of impris- 
onment was. It would not have been a surprise 
to him. What does he do then? He guards him- 
self against a wooden-legged man, — a white man, 
mark you, for he mistakes a white tradesman for 
him, and actually fires a pistol at him. Now, only 
one white man's name is on the chart. The oth- 
ers are Hindoos or Mohammedans. There is no 
other white man. Therefore we may say with con- 
fidence that the wooden-legged man is identical 
with Jonathan Small. Does the reasoning strike yo 
as being faulty?" 

"No: it is clear and concise." 

"Well, now, let us put ourselves in the place of 
Jonathan Small. Let us look at it from his point of 
view. He comes to England with the double idea of 
regaining what he would consider to be his rights 
and of having his revenge upon the man who had 
wronged him. He found out where Sholto lived, 
and very possibly he established communications 
with some one inside the house. There is this but- 
ler, Lai Rao, whom we have not seen. Mrs. Bern- 
stone gives him far from a good character. Small 
could not find out, however, where the treasure 
was hid, for no one ever knew, save the major 
and one faithful servant who had died. Suddenly 
Small learns that the major is on his death-bed. In 
a frenzy lest the secret of the treasure die with him, 
he runs the gauntlet of the guards, makes his way 
to the dying man's window, and is only deterred 
from entering by the presence of his two sons. 
Mad with hate, however, against the dead man, 
he enters the room that night, searches his private 
papers in the hope of discovering some memoran- 
dum relating to the treasure, and finally leaves a 
momenta of his visit in the short inscription upon 
the card. He had doubtless planned beforehand 
that should he slay the major he would leave some 
such record upon the body as a sign that it was 
not a common murder, but, from the point of view 
of the four associates, something in the nature of 
an act of justice. Whimsical and bizarre conceits 
of this kind are common enough in the annals of 



89 



The Sign of the Four 



crime, and usually afford valuable indications as 
to the criminal. Do you follow all this?" 

"Very clearly." 

"Now, what could Jonathan Small do? He 
could only continue to keep a secret watch upon 
the efforts made to find the treasure. Possibly 
he leaves England and only comes back at inter- 
vals. Then comes the discovery of the garret, and 
he is instantly informed of it. We again trace the 
presence of some confederate in the household. 
Jonathan, with his wooden leg, is utterly unable 
to reach the lofty room of Bartholomew Sholto. 
He takes with him, however, a rather curious as- 
sociate, who gets over this difficulty, but dips his 
naked foot into creasote, whence come Toby, and a 
six-mile limp for a half-pay officer with a damaged 
tendo Achillis." 

"But it was the associate, and not Jonathan, 
who committed the crime." 

"Quite so. And rather to Jonathan's disgust, 
to judge by the way the stamped about when he 
got into the room. He bore no grudge against 
Bartholomew Sholto, and would have preferred if 
he could have been simply bound and gagged. He 
did not wish to put his head in a halter. There was 
no help for it, however: the savage instincts of his 
companion had broken out, and the poison had 
done its work: so Jonathan Small left his record, 
lowered the treasure-box to the ground, and fol- 
lowed it himself. That was the train of events as 
far as I can decipher them. Of course as to his 
personal appearance he must be middle-aged, and 
must be sunburned after serving his time in such 
an oven as the Andamans. His height is readily 
calculated from the length of his stride, and we 
know that he was bearded. His hairiness was the 
one point which impressed itself upon Thaddeus 
Sholto when he saw him at the window. I don't 
know that there is anything else." 

"The associate?" 

"Ah, well, there is no great mystery in that. 
But you will know all about it soon enough. How 
sweet the morning air is! See how that one little 
cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic 
flamingo. Now the red rim of the sun pushes itself 
over the London cloud-bank. It shines on a good 
many folk, but on none, I dare bet, who are on a 
stranger errand than you and I. How small we feel 
with our petty ambitions and strivings in the pres- 
ence of the great elemental forces of nature! Are 
you well up in your Jean Paul?" 

"Fairly so. I worked back to him through Car- 
lyle." 



"That was like following the brook to the par- 
ent lake. He makes one curious but profound re- 
mark. It is that the chief proof of man's real great- 
ness lies in his perception of his own smallness. 
It argues, you see, a power of comparison and of 
appreciation which is in itself a proof of nobility. 
There is much food for thought in Richter. You 
have not a pistol, have you?" 

"I have my stick." 

"It is just possible that we may need something 
of the sort if we get to their lair. Jonathan I shall 
leave to you, but if the other turns nasty I shall 
shoot him dead." He took out his revolver as he 
spoke, and, having loaded two of the chambers, he 
put it back into the right-hand pocket of his jacket. 

We had during this time been following the 
guidance of Toby down the half-rural villa-lined 
roads which lead to the metropolis. Now, however, 
we were beginning to come among continuous 
streets, where laborers and dockmen were already 
astir, and slatternly women were taking down 
shutters and brushing door-steps. At the square- 
topped corner public houses business was just be- 
ginning, and rough-looking men were emerging, 
rubbing their sleeves across their beards after their 
morning wet. Strange dogs sauntered up and 
stared wonderingly at us as we passed, but our 
inimitable Toby looked neither to the right nor 
to the left, but trotted onwards with his nose to 
the ground and an occasional eager whine which 
spoke of a hot scent. 

We had traversed Streatham, Brixton, Cam- 
berwell, and now found ourselves in Kennington 
Lane, having borne away through the side-streets 
to the east of the Oval. The men whom we pursued 
seemed to have taken a curiously zigzag road, 
with the idea probably of escaping observation. 
They had never kept to the main road if a parallel 
side-street would serve their turn. At the foot of 
Kennington Lane they had edged away to the left 
through Bond Street and Miles Street. Where the 
latter street turns into Knight's Place, Toby ceased 
to advance, but began to run backwards and for- 
wards with one ear cocked and the other droop- 
ing, the very picture of canine indecision. Then he 
waddled round in circles, looking up to us from 
time to time, as if to ask for sympathy in his em- 
barrassment. 

"What the deuce is the matter with the dog?" 
growled Holmes. "They surely would not take a 
cab, or go off in a balloon." 

"Perhaps they stood here for some time," I sug- 
gested. 



90 



The Sign of the Four 



"Ah! it's all right. He's off again," said my 
companion, in a tone of relief. 

He was indeed off, for after sniffing round 
again he suddenly made up his mind, and darted 
away with an energy and determination such as he 
had not yet shown. The scent appeared to be much 
hotter than before, for he had not even to put his 
nose on the ground, but tugged at his leash and 
tried to break into a run. I cold see by the gleam 
in Holmes's eyes that he thought we were nearing 
the end of our journey. 

Our course now ran down Nine Elms until we 
came to Broderick and Nelson's large timber-yard, 
just past the White Eagle tavern. Here the dog, 
frantic with excitement, turned down through the 



side-gate into the enclosure, where the sawyers 
were already at work. On the dog raced through 
sawdust and shavings, down an alley, round a pas- 
sage, between two wood-piles, and finally, with a 
triumphant yelp, sprang upon a large barrel which 
still stood upon the hand-trolley on which it had 
been brought. With lolling tongue and blinking 
eyes, Toby stood upon the cask, looking from one 
to the other of us for some sign of appreciation. 
The staves of the barrel and the wheels of the 
trolley were smeared with a dark liquid, and the 
whole air was heavy with the smell of creasote. 

Sherlock Holmes and I looked blankly at each 
other, and then burst simultaneously into an un- 
controllable fit of laughter. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

The Baker Street Irregulars 



"What now?" I asked, 
acter for infallibility." 



"Toby has lost his char- 



"He acted according to his lights," said 
Holmes, lifting him down from the barrel and 
walking him out of the timber-yard. "If you con- 
sider how much creasote is carted about London in 
one day, it is no great wonder that our trail should 
have been crossed. It is much used now, especially 
for the seasoning of wood. Poor Toby is not to 
blame." 

"We must get on the main scent again, I sup- 
pose." 

"Yes. And, fortunately, we have no distance to 
go. Evidently what puzzled the dog at the corner 
of Knight's Place was that there were two different 
trails running in opposite directions. We took the 
wrong one. It only remains to follow the other." 

There was no difficulty about this. On lead- 
ing Toby to the place where he had committed 
his fault, he cast about in a wide circle and finally 
dashed off in a fresh direction. 

"We must take care that he does not now bring 
us to the place where the creasote-barrel came 
from," I observed. 

"I had thought of that. But you notice that he 
keeps on the pavement, whereas the barrel passed 



down the roadway. No, we are on the true scent 
now. " 

It tended down towards the river-side, running 
through Belmont Place and Prince's Street. At the 
end of Broad Street it ran right down to the wa- 
ter 's edge, where there was a small wooden wharf. 
Toby led us to the very edge of this, and there 
stood whining, looking out on the dark current be- 
yond. 

"We are out of luck," said Holmes. "They have 
taken to a boat here." Several small punts and 
skiffs were lying about in the water and on the 
edge of the wharf. We took Toby round to each in 
turn, but, though he sniffed earnestly, he made no 
sign. 

Close to the rude landing-stage was a small 
brick house, with a wooden placard slung out 
through the second window. "Mordecai Smith" 
was printed across it in large letters, and, under- 
neath, "Boats to hire by the hour or day." A sec- 
ond inscription above the door informed us that 
a steam launch was kept, — a statement which was 
confirmed by a great pile of coke upon the jetty. 
Sherlock Holmes looked slowly round, and his 
face assumed an ominous expression. 

"This looks bad," said he. "These fellows are 
sharper than I expected. They seem to have cov- 



9i 



The Sign of the Four 



ered their tracks. There has, I fear, been precon- 
certed management here." 

He was approaching the door of the house, 
when it opened, and a little, curly-headed lad of 
six came running out, followed by a stoutish, red- 
faced woman with a large sponge in her hand. 

"You come back and be washed, Jack," she 
shouted. "Come back, you young imp; for if your 
father comes home and finds you like that, he'll let 
us hear of it." 

"Dear little chap!" said Holmes, strategically. 
"What a rosy-cheeked young rascal! Now, Jack, is 
there anything you would like?" 

The youth pondered for a moment. "I'd like a 
shillin'," said he. 

"Nothing you would like better?" 

"I'd like two shillin' better," the prodigy an- 
swered, after some thought. 

"Here you are, then! Catch! — A fine child, Mrs. 
Smith!" 

"Lor' bless you, sir, he is that, and forward. He 
gets a'most too much for me to manage, 'specially 
when my man is away days at a time." 

"Away, is he?" said Holmes, in a disappointed 
voice. "I am sorry for that, for I wanted to speak 
to Mr. Smith." 

"He's been away since yesterday mornin', sir, 
and, truth to tell, I am beginnin' to feel frightened 
about him. But if it was about a boat, sir, maybe I 
could serve as well." 

"I wanted to hire his steam launch." 

"Why, bless you, sir, it is in the steam launch 
that he has gone. That's what puzzles me; for 
I know there ain't more coals in her than would 
take her to about Woolwich and back. If he'd been 
away in the barge I'd ha' thought nothin'; for many 
a time a job has taken him as far as Gravesend, 
and then if there was much doin' there he might 
ha' stayed over. But what good is a steam launch 
without coals?" 

"He might have bought some at a wharf down 
the river." 

"He might, sir, but it weren't his way. Many 
a time I've heard him call out at the prices they 
charge for a few odd bags. Besides, I don't like 
that wooden-legged man, wi' his ugly face and 
outlandish talk. What did he want always knockin' 
about here for?" 

"A wooden-legged man?" said Holmes, with 
bland surprise. 



"Yes, sir, a brown, monkey-faced chap that's 
called more'n once for my old man. It was him 
that roused him up yesternight, and, what's more, 
my man knew he was comin', for he had steam up 
in the launch. I tell you straight, sir, I don't feel 
easy in my mind about it." 

"But, my dear Mrs. Smith," said Holmes, 
shrugging his shoulders, "You are frightening 
yourself about nothing. How could you possibly 
tell that it was the wooden-legged man who came 
in the night? I don't quite understand how you 
can be so sure." 

"His voice, sir. I knew his voice, which 
is kind o' thick and foggy He tapped at the 
winder, — about three it would be. 'Show a leg, 
matey,' says he: 'time to turn out guard.' My old 
man woke up Jim, — that's my eldest, — and away 
they went, without so much as a word to me. I 
could hear the wooden leg clackin' on the stones." 

"And was this wooden-legged man alone?" 

"Couldn't say, I am sure, sir. I didn't hear no 
one else." 

"I am sorry, Mrs. Smith, for I wanted a steam 
launch, and I have heard good reports of the — Let 
me see, what is her name?" 

"The Aurora, sir." 

"Ah! She's not that old green launch with a 
yellow line, very broad in the beam?" 

"No, indeed. She's as trim a little thing as any 
on the river. She's been fresh painted, black with 
two red streaks." 

"Thanks. I hope that you will hear soon from 
Mr. Smith. I am going down the river; and if I 
should see anything of the Aurora I shall let him 
know that you are uneasy. A black funnel, you 

say?" 

"No, sir. Black with a white band." 

"Ah, of course. It was the sides which were 
black. Good-morning, Mrs. Smith. — There is a 
boatman here with a wherry, Watson. We shall 
take it and cross the river. 

"The main thing with people of that sort," said 
Holmes, as we sat in the sheets of the wherry, "is 
never to let them think that their information can 
be of the slightest importance to you. If you do, 
they will instantly shut up like an oyster. If you 
listen to them under protest, as it were, you are 
very likely to get what you want." 

"Our course now seems pretty clear," said I. 

"What would you do, then?" 

"I would engage a launch and go down the 
river on the track of the Aurora." 



92 



The Sign of the Four 



"My dear fellow, it would be a colossal task. 
She may have touched at any wharf on either side 
of the stream between here and Greenwich. Below 
the bridge there is a perfect labyrinth of landing- 
places for miles. It would take you days and days 
to exhaust them, if you set about it alone." 

"Employ the police, then." 

"No. I shall probably call Athelney Jones in 
at the last moment. He is not a bad fellow, and I 
should not like to do anything which would injure 
him professionally. But I have a fancy for working 
it out myself, now that we have gone so far." 

"Could we advertise, then, asking for informa- 
tion from wharfingers?" 

"Worse and worse! Our men would know that 
the chase was hot at their heels, and they would 
be off out of the country. As it is, they are likely 
enough to leave, but as long as they think they are 
perfectly safe they will be in no hurry. Jones's en- 
ergy will be of use to us there, for his view of the 
case is sure to push itself into the daily press, and 
the runaways will think that every one is off on the 
wrong scent." 

"What are we to do, then?" I asked, as we 
landed near Millbank Penitentiary. 

"Take this hansom, drive home, have some 
breakfast, and get an hour's sleep. It is quite on 
the cards that we may be afoot to-night again. Stop 
at a telegraph-office, cabby! We will keep Toby, for 
he may be of use to us yet." 

We pulled up at the Great Peter Street post- 
office, and Holmes despatched his wire. "Whom 
do you think that is to?" he asked, as we resumed 
our journey. 

"I am sure I don't know." 

"You remember the Baker Street division of the 
detective police force whom I employed in the Jef- 
ferson Hope case?" 

"Well," said I, laughing. 

"This is just the case where they might be in- 
valuable. If they fail, I have other resources; but 
I shall try them first. That wire was to my dirty 
little lieutenant, Wiggins, and I expect that he and 
his gang will be with us before we have finished 
our breakfast." 

It was between eight and nine o'clock now, and 
I was conscious of a strong reaction after the suc- 
cessive excitements of the night. I was limp and 
weary, befogged in mind and fatigued in body. I 
had not the professional enthusiasm which carried 
my companion on, nor could I look at the matter 
as a mere abstract intellectual problem. As far as 



the death of Bartholomew Sholto went, I had heard 
little good of him, and could feel no intense antipa- 
thy to his murderers. The treasure, however, was a 
different matter. That, or part of it, belonged right- 
fully to Miss Morstan. While there was a chance of 
recovering it I was ready to devote my life to the 
one object. True, if I found it it would probably 
put her forever beyond my reach. Yet it would be 
a petty and selfish love which would be influenced 
by such a thought as that. If Holmes could work to 
find the criminals, I had a tenfold stronger reason 
to urge me on to find the treasure. 

A bath at Baker Street and a complete change 
freshened me up wonderfully. When I came down 
to our room I found the breakfast laid and Holmes 
pouring out the coffee. 

"Here it is," said he, laughing, and pointing to 
an open newspaper. "The energetic Jones and the 
ubiquitous reporter have fixed it up between them. 
But you have had enough of the case. Better have 
your ham and eggs first. " 

I took the paper from him and read the short 
notice, which was headed "Mysterious Business at 
Upper Norwood." 

"About twelve o'clock last night," said 
the Standard, "Mr. Bartholomew Sholto, of 
Pondicherry Lodge, Upper Norwood, was found 
dead in his room under circumstances which point 
to foul play As far as we can learn, no actual 
traces of violence were found upon Mr. Sholto's 
person, but a valuable collection of Indian gems 
which the deceased gentleman had inherited from 
his father has been carried off. The discovery was 
first made by Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Wat- 
son, who had called at the house with Mr. Thad- 
deus Sholto, brother of the deceased. By a singu- 
lar piece of good fortune, Mr. Athelney Jones, the 
well-known member of the detective police force, 
happened to be at the Norwood Police Station, and 
was on the ground within half an hour of the first 
alarm. His trained and experienced faculties were 
at once directed towards the detection of the crim- 
inals, with the gratifying result that the brother, 
Thaddeus Sholto, has already been arrested, to- 
gether with the housekeeper, Mrs. Bernstone, an 
Indian butler named Lai Rao, and a porter, or gate- 
keeper, named McMurdo. It is quite certain that 
the thief or thieves were well acquainted with the 
house, for Mr. Jones's well-known technical knowl- 
edge and his powers of minute observation have 
enabled him to prove conclusively that the mis- 
creants could not have entered by the door or by 
the window, but must have made their way across 



93 



The Sign of the Four 



the roof of the building, and so through a trap- 
door into a room which communicated with that 
in which the body was found. This fact, which 
has been very clearly made out, proves conclu- 
sively that it was no mere haphazard burglary. 
The prompt and energetic action of the officers 
of the law shows the great advantage of the pres- 
ence on such occasions of a single vigorous and 
masterful mind. We cannot but think that it sup- 
plies an argument to those who would wish to see 
our detectives more decentralized, and so brought 
into closer and more effective touch with the cases 
which it is their duty to investigate." 

"Isn't it gorgeous!" said Holmes, grinning over 
his coffee-cup. "What do you think of it?" 

"I think that we have had a close shave our- 
selves of being arrested for the crime." 

"So do I. I wouldn't answer for our safety now, 
if he should happen to have another of his attacks 
of energy." 

At this moment there was a loud ring at the 
bell, and I could hear Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, 
raising her voice in a wail of expostulation and dis- 
may. 

"By heaven, Holmes," I said, half rising, "I be- 
lieve that they are really after us." 

"No, it's not quite so bad as that. It is the un- 
official force, — the Baker Street irregulars." 

As he spoke, there came a swift pattering of 
naked feet upon the stairs, a clatter of high voices, 
and in rushed a dozen dirty and ragged little 
street- Arabs. There was some show of discipline 
among them, despite their tumultuous entry, for 
they instantly drew up in line and stood facing us 
with expectant faces. One of their number, taller 
and older than the others, stood forward with an 
air of lounding superiority which was very funny 
in such a disreputable little carecrow. 

"Got your message, sir," said he, "and brought 
'em on sharp. Three bob and a tanner for tickets." 

"Here you are," said Holmes, producing some 
silver. "In future they can report to you, Wiggins, 
and you to me. I cannot have the house invaded 
in this way. However, it is just as well that you 
should all hear the instructions. I want to find the 
whereabouts of a steam launch called the Aurora, 
owner Mordecai Smith, black with two red streaks, 
funnel black with a white band. She is down the 
river somewhere. I want one boy to be at Morde- 
cai Smith's landing-stage opposite Millbank to say 
if the boat comes back. You must divide it out 
among yourselves, and do both banks thoroughly. 



Let me know the moment you have news. Is that 
all clear?" 

"Yes, guv'nor," said Wiggins. 

"The old scale of pay, and a guinea to the boy 
who finds the boat. Here's a day in advance. Now 
off you go!" He handed them a shilling each, and 
away they buzzed down the stairs, and I saw them 
a moment later streaming down the street. 

"If the launch is above water they will find her," 
said Holmes, as he rose from the table and lit his 
pipe. "They can go everywhere, see everything, 
overhear every one. I expect to hear before evening 
that they have spotted her. In the mean while, we 
can do nothing but await results. We cannot pick 
up the broken trail until we find either the Aurora 
or Mr. Mordecai Smith." 

"Toby could eat these scraps, I dare say. Are 
you going to bed, Holmes?" 

"No: I am not tired. I have a curious consti- 
tution. I never remember feeling tired by work, 
though idleness exhausts me completely. I am go- 
ing to smoke and to think over this queer busi- 
ness to which my fair client has introduced us. If 
ever man had an easy task, this of ours ought to 
be. Wooden-legged men are not so common, but 
the other man must, I should think, be absolutely 
unique." 

"That other man again!" 

"I have no wish to make a mystery of him, — to 
you, anyway. But you must have formed your own 
opinion. Now, do consider the data. Diminutive 
footmarks, toes never fettered by boots, naked feet, 
stone-headed wooden mace, great agility, small 
poisoned darts. What do you make of all this?" 

"A savage!" I exclaimed. "Perhaps one of 
those Indians who were the associates of Jonathan 
Small." 

"Hardly that," said he. "When first I saw signs 
of strange weapons I was inclined to think so; but 
the remarkable character of the footmarks caused 
me to reconsider my views. Some of the inhabi- 
tants of the Indian Peninsula are small men, but 
none could have left such marks as that. The Hin- 
doo proper has long and thin feet. The sandal- 
wearing Mohammedan has the great toe well sep- 
arated from the others, because the thong is com- 
monly passed between. These little darts, too, 
could only be shot in one way. They are from a 
blow-pipe. Now, then, where are we to find our 
savage?" 

"South American," I hazarded. 

He stretched his hand up, and took down a 
bulky volume from the shelf. "This is the first vol- 
ume of a gazetteer which is now being published. 



94 



The Sign of the Four 



It may be looked upon as the very latest author- 
ity. What have we here? 'Andaman Islands, situ- 
ated 340 miles to the north of Sumatra, in the Bay 
of Bengal.' Hum! hum! What's all this? Moist 
climate, coral reefs, sharks, Port Blair, convict- 
barracks, Rutland Island, cottonwoods — Ah, here 
we are. 'The aborigines of the Andaman Islands 
may perhaps claim the distinction of being the 
smallest race upon this earth, though some an- 
thropologists prefer the Bushmen of Africa, the 
Digger Indians of America, and the Terra del Fue- 
gians. The average height is rather below four feet, 
although many full-grown adults may be found 
who are very much smaller than this. They are a 
fierce, morose, and intractable people, though ca- 
pable of forming most devoted friendships when 
their confidence has once been gained.' Mark that, 
Watson. Now, then, listen to this. 'They are nat- 
urally hideous, having large, misshapen heads, 
small, fierce eyes, and distorted features. Their 
feet and hands, however, are remarkably small. 
So intractable and fierce are they that all the ef- 
forts of the British official have failed to win them 
over in any degree. They have always been a terror 
to shipwrecked crews, braining the survivors with 
their stone-headed clubs, or shooting them with 



their poisoned arrows. These massacres are invari- 
ably concluded by a cannibal feast.' Nice, amiable 
people, Watson! If this fellow had been left to his 
own unaided devices this affair might have taken 
an even more ghastly turn. I fancy that, even as it 
is, Jonathan Small would give a good deal not to 
have employed him." 

"But how came he to have so singular a com- 
panion?" 

"Ah, that is more than I can tell. Since, how- 
ever, we had already determined that Small had 
come from the Andamans, it is not so very won- 
derful that this islander should be with him. No 
doubt we shall know all about it in time. Look 
here, Watson; you look regularly done. Lie down 
there on the sofa, and see if I can put you to sleep." 

He took up his violin from the corner, and as 
I stretched myself out he began to play some low, 
dreamy, melodious air, — his own, no doubt, for he 
had a remarkable gift for improvisation. I have a 
vague remembrance of his gaunt limbs, his earnest 
face, and the rise and fall of his bow. Then I 
seemed to be floated peacefully away upon a soft 
sea of sound, until I found myself in dream-land, 
with the sweet face of Mary Morstan looking down 
upon me. 



CHAPTER IX. 

A Break in the Chain 



It was late in the afternoon before I woke, 
strengthened and refreshed. Sherlock Holmes still 
sat exactly as I had left him, save that he had laid 
aside his violin and was deep in a book. He looked 
across at me, as I stirred, and I noticed that his face 
was dark and troubled. 

"You have slept soundly," he said. "I feared 
that our talk would wake you." 

"I heard nothing," I answered. "Have you had 
fresh news, then?" 

"Unfortunately, no. I confess that I am sur- 
prised and disappointed. I expected something 
definite by this time. Wiggins has just been up 
to report. He says that no trace can be found of 
the launch. It is a provoking check, for every hour 
is of importance." 



"Can I do anything? I am perfectly fresh now, 
and quite ready for another night's outing." 

"No, we can do nothing. We can only wait. If 
we go ourselves, the message might come in our 
absence, and delay be caused. You can do what 
you will, but I must remain on guard." 

"Then I shall run over to Camberwell and call 
upon Mrs. Cecil Forrester. She asked me to, yes- 
terday." 

"On Mrs. Cecil Forrester?" asked Holmes, with 
the twinkle of a smile in his eyes. 

"Well, of course Miss Morstan too. They were 
anxious to hear what happened." 

"I would not tell them too much," said Holmes. 
"Women are never to be entirely trusted, — not the 
best of them." 



95 



The Sign of the Four 



I did not pause to argue over this atrocious sen- 
timent. "I shall be back in an hour or two," I re- 
marked. 

"All right! Good luck! But, I say, if you are 
crossing the river you may as well return Toby, for 
I don't think it is at all likely that we shall have any 
use for him now." 

I took our mongrel accordingly, and left him, 
together with a half-sovereign, at the old natural- 
ist's in Pinchin Lane. At Camberwell I found Miss 
Morstan a little weary after her night's adventures, 
but very eager to hear the news. Mrs. Forrester, 
too, was full of curiosity. I told them all that we 
had done, suppressing, however, the more dread- 
ful parts of the tragedy. Thus, although I spoke 
of Mr. Sholto's death, I said nothing of the exact 
manner and method of it. With all my omissions, 
however, there was enough to startle and amaze 
them. 

"It is a romance!" cried Mrs. Forrester. "An 
injured lady, half a million in treasure, a black can- 
nibal, and a wooden-legged ruffian. They take the 
place of the conventional dragon or wicked earl." 

"And two knight-errants to the rescue," added 
Miss Morstan, with a bright glance at me. 

"Why, Mary, your fortune depends upon the is- 
sue of this search. I don't think that you are nearly 
excited enough. Just imagine what it must be to be 
so rich, and to have the world at your feet! " 

It sent a little thrill of joy to my heart to notice 
that she showed no sign of elation at the prospect. 
On the contrary, she gave a toss of her proud head, 
as though the matter were one in which she took 
small interest. 

"It is for Mr. Thaddeus Sholto that I am anx- 
ious," she said. "Nothing else is of any conse- 
quence; but I think that he has behaved most 
kindly and honorably throughout. It is our duty to 
clear him of this dreadful and unfounded charge." 

It was evening before I left Camberwell, and 
quite dark by the time I reached home. My com- 
panion's book and pipe lay by his chair, but he had 
disappeared. I looked about in the hope of seeing 
a note, but there was none. 

"I suppose that Mr. Sherlock Holmes has gone 
out," I said to Mrs. Hudson as she came up to 
lower the blinds. 

"No, sir. He has gone to his room, sir. Do you 
know, sir," sinking her voice into an impressive 
whisper, "I am afraid for his health?" 

"Why so, Mrs. Hudson?" 



"Well, he's that strange, sir. After you was gone 
he walked and he walked, up and down, and up 
and down, until I was weary of the sound of his 
footstep. Then I heard him talking to himself and 
muttering, and every time the bell rang out he 
came on the stairhead, with 'What is that, Mrs. 
Hudson?' And now he has slammed off to his 
room, but I can hear him walking away the same as 
ever. I hope he's not going to be ill, sir. I ventured 
to say something to him about cooling medicine, 
but he turned on me, sir, with such a look that I 
don't know how ever I got out of the room." 

"I don't think that you have any cause to be 
uneasy, Mrs. Hudson," I answered. "I have seen 
him like this before. He has some small matter 
upon his mind which makes him restless." I tried 
to speak lightly to our worthy landlady, but I was 
myself somewhat uneasy when through the long 
night I still from time to time heard the dull sound 
of his tread, and knew how his keen spirit was 
chafing against this involuntary inaction. 

At breakfast-time he looked worn and haggard, 
with a little fleck of feverish color upon either 
cheek. 

"You are knocking yourself up, old man," I 
remarked. "I heard you marching about in the 
night." 

"No, I could not sleep," he answered. "This in- 
fernal problem is consuming me. It is too much 
to be balked by so petty an obstacle, when all else 
had been overcome. I know the men, the launch, 
everything; and yet I can get no news. I have set 
other agencies at work, and used every means at 
my disposal. The whole river has been searched 
on either side, but there is no news, nor has Mrs. 
Smith heard of her husband. I shall come to the 
conclusion soon that they have scuttled the craft. 
But there are objections to that." 

"Or that Mrs. Smith has put us on a wrong 
scent." 

"No, I think that may be dismissed. I had in- 
quiries made, and there is a launch of that descrip- 
tion." 

"Could it have gone up the river?" 

"I have considered that possibility too, and 
there is a search-party who will work up as far as 
Richmond. If no news comes to-day, I shall start 
off myself to-morrow, and go for the men rather 
than the boat. But surely, surely, we shall hear 
something." 

We did not, however. Not a word came to us 
either from Wiggins or from the other agencies. 
There were articles in most of the papers upon the 



96 



The Sign of the Four 



Norwood tragedy. They all appeared to be rather 
hostile to the unfortunate Thaddeus Sholto. No 
fresh details were to be found, however, in any of 
them, save that an inquest was to be held upon the 
following day. I walked over to Camberwell in the 
evening to report our ill success to the ladies, and 
on my return I found Holmes dejected and some- 
what morose. He would hardly reply to my ques- 
tions, and busied himself all evening in an abstruse 
chemical analysis which involved much heating of 
retorts and distilling of vapors, ending at last in a 
smell which fairly drove me out of the apartment. 
Up to the small hours of the morning I could hear 
the clinking of his test-tubes which told me that he 
was still engaged in his malodorous experiment. 

In the early dawn I woke with a start, and 
was surprised to find him standing by my bed- 
side, clad in a rude sailor dress with a pea-jacket, 
and a coarse red scarf round his neck. 

"I am off down the river, Watson," said he. "I 
have been turning it over in my mind, and I can 
see only one way out of it. It is worth trying, at all 
events." 

"Surely I can come with you, then?" said I. 

"No; you can be much more useful if you will 
remain here as my representative. I am loath to 
go, for it is quite on the cards that some message 
may come during the day, though Wiggins was de- 
spondent about it last night. I want you to open all 
notes and telegrams, and to act on your own judg- 
ment if any news should come. Can I rely upon 
you?" 

"Most certainly. " 

"I am afraid that you will not be able to wire to 
me, for I can hardly tell yet where I may find my- 
self. If I am in luck, however, I may not be gone so 
very long. I shall have news of some sort or other 
before I get back." 

I had heard nothing of him by breakfast- time. 
On opening the Standard, however, I found that 
there was a fresh allusion to the business. 

"With reference to the Upper Norwood 
tragedy," it remarked, "we have reason to 
believe that the matter promises to be even 
more complex and mysterious than was 
originally supposed. Fresh evidence has 
shown that it is quite impossible that Mr. 
Thaddeus Sholto could have been in any 
way concerned in the matter. He and the 
housekeeper, Mrs. Bernstone, were both re- 
leased yesterday evening. It is believed, 
however, that the police have a clue as to 



the real culprits, and that it is being pros- 
ecuted by Mr. Athelney Jones, of Scotland 
Yard, with all his well-known energy and 
sagacity. Further arrests may be expected 
at any moment." 

"That is satisfactory so far as it goes," thought I. 
"Friend Sholto is safe, at any rate. I wonder what 
the fresh clue may be; though it seems to be a 
stereotyped form whenever the police have made 
a blunder." 

I tossed the paper down upon the table, but at 
that moment my eye caught an advertisement in 
the agony column. It ran in this way: 

"Lost. — Whereas Mordecai Smith, boat- 
man, and his son, Jim, left Smith's Wharf 
at or about three o'clock last Tuesday morn- 
ing in the steam launch Aurora, black with 
two red stripes, funnel black with a white 
band, the sum of five pounds will be paid to 
any one who can give information to Mrs. 
Smith, at Smith's Wharf, or at 221B Baker 
Street, as to the whereabouts of the said 
Mordecai Smith and the launch Aurora." 

This was clearly Holmes's doing. The Baker Street 
address was enough to prove that. It struck me as 
rather ingenious, because it might be read by the 
fugitives without their seeing in it more than the 
natural anxiety of a wife for her missing husband. 

It was a long day. Every time that a knock 
came to the door, or a sharp step passed in the 
street, I imagined that it was either Holmes return- 
ing or an answer to his advertisement. I tried to 
read, but my thoughts would wander off to our 
strange quest and to the ill-assorted and villainous 
pair whom we were pursuing. Could there be, I 
wondered, some radical flaw in my companion's 
reasoning. Might he be suffering from some huge 
self-deception? Was it not possible that his nimble 
and speculative mind had built up this wild the- 
ory upon faulty premises? I had never known him 
to be wrong; and yet the keenest reasoner may oc- 
casionally be deceived. He was likely, I thought, to 
fall into error through the over-refinement of his 
logic, — his preference for a subtle and bizarre ex- 
planation when a plainer and more commonplace 
one lay ready to his hand. Yet, on the other hand, I 
had myself seen the evidence, and I had heard the 
reasons for his deductions. When I looked back on 
the long chain of curious circumstances, many of 
them trivial in themselves, but all tending in the 
same direction, I could not disguise from myself 
that even if Holmes's explanation were incorrect 
the true theory must be equally outre and startling. 



97 



The Sign of the Four 



At three o'clock in the afternoon there was a 
loud peal at the bell, an authoritative voice in the 
hall, and, to my surprise, no less a person than Mr. 
Athelney Jones was shown up to me. Very differ- 
ent was he, however, from the brusque and master- 
ful professor of common sense who had taken over 
the case so confidently at Upper Norwood. His ex- 
pression was downcast, and his bearing meek and 
even apologetic. 

"Good-day, sir; good-day," said he. "Mr. Sher- 
lock Holmes is out, I understand." 

"Yes, and I cannot be sure when he will be 
back. But perhaps you would care to wait. Take 
that chair and try one of these cigars." 

"Thank you; I don't mind if I do," said he, 
mopping his face with a red bandanna handker- 
chief. 

"And a whiskey-and-soda?" 

"Well, half a glass. It is very hot for the time 
of year; and I have had a good deal to worry and 
try me. You know my theory about this Norwood 
case?" 

"I remember that you expressed one." 

"Well, I have been obliged to reconsider it. I 
had my net drawn tightly round Mr. Sholto, sir, 
when pop he went through a hole in the middle of 
it. He was able to prove an alibi which could not 
be shaken. From the time that he left his brother's 
room he was never out of sight of some one or 
other. So it could not be he who climbed over roofs 
and through trap-doors. It's a very dark case, and 
my professional credit is at stake. I should be very 
glad of a little assistance." 

"We all need help sometimes," said I. 

"Your friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes is a wonder- 
ful man, sir," said he, in a husky and confidential 
voice. "He's a man who is not to be beat. I have 
known that young man go into a good many cases, 
but I never saw the case yet that he could not throw 
a light upon. He is irregular in his methods, and 
a little quick perhaps in jumping at theories, but, 
on the whole, I think he would have made a most 
promising officer, and I don't care who knows it. I 
have had a wire from him this morning, by which I 
understand that he has got some clue to this Sholto 
business. Here is the message." 

He took the telegram out of his pocket, and 
handed it to me. It was dated from Poplar at 
twelve o'clock. "Go to Baker Street at once," it 
said. "If I have not returned, wait for me. I am 
close on the track of the Sholto gang. You can come 
with us to-night if you want to be in at the finish." 



"This sounds well. He has evidently picked up 
the scent again," said I. 

"Ah, then he has been at fault too," exclaimed 
Jones, with evident satisfaction. "Even the best of 
us are thrown off sometimes. Of course this may 
prove to be a false alarm; but it is my duty as an 
officer of the law to allow no chance to slip. But 
there is some one at the door. Perhaps this is he." 

A heavy step was heard ascending the stair, 
with a great wheezing and rattling as from a man 
who was sorely put to it for breath. Once or twice 
he stopped, as though the climb were too much 
for him, but at last he made his way to our door 
and entered. His appearance corresponded to the 
sounds which we had heard. He was an aged man, 
clad in seafaring garb, with an old pea-jacket but- 
toned up to his throat. His back was bowed, his 
knees were shaky, and his breathing was painfully 
asthmatic. As he leaned upon a thick oaken cudgel 
his shoulders heaved in the effort to draw the air 
into his lungs. He had a colored scarf round his 
chin, and I could see little of his face save a pair of 
keen dark eyes, overhung by bushy white brows, 
and long gray side-whiskers. Altogether he gave 
me the impression of a respectable master mariner 
who had fallen into years and poverty. 

"What is it, my man?" I asked. 

He looked about him in the slow methodical 
fashion of old age. 

"Is Mr. Sherlock Holmes here?" said he. 

"No; but I am acting for him. You can tell me 
any message you have for him." 

"It was to him himself I was to tell it," said he. 

"But I tell you that I am acting for him. Was it 
about Mordecai Smith's boat?" 

"Yes. I knows well where it is. An' I knows 
where the men he is after are. An' I knows where 
the treasure is. I knows all about it." 

"Then tell me, and I shall let him know." 

"It was to him I was to tell it," he repeated, 
with the petulant obstinacy of a very old man. 

"Well, you must wait for him." 

"No, no; I ain't goin' to lose a whole day to 
please no one. If Mr. Holmes ain't here, then Mr. 
Holmes must find it all out for himself. I don't care 
about the look of either of you, and I won't tell a 
word." 

He shuffled towards the door, but Athelney 
Jones got in front of him. 

"Wait a bit, my friend," said he. "You have im- 
portant information, and you must not walk off. 
We shall keep you, whether you like or not, until 
our friend returns." 



98 



The Sign of the Four 



The old man made a little run towards the 
door, but, as Athelney Jones put his broad back 
up against it, he recognized the uselessness of re- 
sistance. 

"Pretty sort o' treatment this!" he cried, stamp- 
ing his stick. "I come here to see a gentleman, and 
you two, who I never saw in my life, seize me and 
treat me in this fashion!" 

"You will be none the worse," I said. "We shall 
recompense you for the loss of your time. Sit over 
here on the sofa, and you will not have long to 
wait." 

He came across sullenly enough, and seated 
himself with his face resting on his hands. Jones 
and I resumed our cigars and our talk. Suddenly, 
however, Holmes's voice broke in upon us. 

"I think that you might offer me a cigar too," 
he said. 

We both started in our chairs. There was 
Holmes sitting close to us with an air of quiet 
amusement. 

"Holmes!" I exclaimed. "You here! But where 
is the old man?" 

"Here is the old man," said he, holding out a 
heap of white hair. "Here he is, — wig, whiskers, 
eyebrows, and all. I thought my disguise was 
pretty good, but I hardly expected that it would 
stand that test." 

"Ah, you rogue!" cried Jones, highly delighted. 
"You would have made an actor, and a rare one. 
You had the proper workhouse cough, and those 
weak legs of yours are worth ten pound a week. I 
thought I knew the glint of your eye, though. You 
didn't get away from us so easily, you see." 

"I have been working in that get-up all day," 
said he, lighting his cigar. "You see, a good 
many of the criminal classes begin to know 
me, — especially since our friend here took to pub- 
lishing some of my cases: so I can only go on 
the war-path under some simple disguise like this. 
You got my wire?" 

"Yes; that was what brought me here." 

"How has your case prospered?" 

"It has all come to nothing. I have had to re- 
lease two of my prisoners, and there is no evidence 
against the other two." 



"Never mind. We shall give you two others in 
the place of them. But you must put yourself un- 
der my orders. You are welcome to all the official 
credit, but you must act on the line that I point out. 
Is that agreed?" 

"Entirely, if you will help me to the men." 

"Well, then, in the first place I shall want a fast 
police-boat — a steam launch — to be at the West- 
minster Stairs at seven o'clock." 

"That is easily managed. There is always one 
about there; but I can step across the road and tele- 
phone to make sure." 

"Then I shall want two stanch men, in case of 
resistance." 

"There will be two or three in the boat. What 
else?" 

"When we secure the men we shall get the trea- 
sure. I think that it would be a pleasure to my 
friend here to take the box round to the young 
lady to whom half of it rightfully belongs. Let her 
be the first to open it. — Eh, Watson?" 

"It would be a great pleasure to me." 

"Rather an irregular proceeding," said Jones, 
shaking his head. "However, the whole thing is 
irregular, and I suppose we must wink at it. The 
treasure must afterwards be handed over to the 
authorities until after the official investigation." 

"Certainly. That is easily managed. One other 
point. I should much like to have a few details 
about this matter from the lips of Jonathan Small 
himself. You know I like to work the detail of 
my cases out. There is no objection to my hav- 
ing an unofficial interview with him, either here in 
my rooms or elsewhere, as long as he is efficiently 
guarded?" 

"Well, you are master of the situation. I have 
had no proof yet of the existence of this Jonathan 
Small. However, if you can catch him I don't see 
how I can refuse you an interview with him." 

"That is understood, then?" 

"Perfectly. Is there anything else?" 

"Only that I insist upon your dining with us. It 
will be ready in half an hour. I have oysters and 
a brace of grouse, with something a little choice in 
white wines. — Watson, you have never yet recog- 
nized my merits as a housekeeper." 



99 



The Sign of the Four 



CHAPTER X. 

The End of the Islander 



Our meal was a merry one. Holmes coud talk 
exceedingly well when he chose, and that night 
he did choose. He appeared to be in a state of 
nervous exaltation. I have never known him so 
brilliant. He spoke on a quick succession of sub- 
jects, — on miracle-plays, on medieval pottery, on 
Stradivarius violins, on the Buddhism of Ceylon, 
and on the war-ships of the future, — handling each 
as though he had made a special study of it. His 
bright humor marked the reaction from his black 
depression of the preceding days. Athelney Jones 
proved to be a sociable soul in his hours of relax- 
ation, and face his dinner with the air of a bon vi- 
vant. For myself, I felt elated at the thought that 
we were nearing the end of our task, and I caught 
something of Holmes's gaiety. None of us alluded 
during dinner to the cause which had brought us 
together. 

When the cloth was cleared, Holmes glanced 
at this watch, and filled up three glasses with port. 
"One bumper," said he, "to the success of our little 
expedition. And now it is high time we were off. 
Have you a pistol, Watson?" 

"I have my old service-revolver in my desk." 

"You had best take it, then. It is well to be pre- 
pared. I see that the cab is at the door. I ordered it 
for half-past six." 

It was a little past seven before we reached the 
Westminster wharf, and found our launch await- 
ing us. Holmes eyed it critically. 

"Is there anything to mark it as a police-boat?" 

"Yes, — that green lamp at the side." 

"Then take it off." 

The small change was made, we stepped on 
board, and the ropes were cast off. Jones, Holmes, 
and I sat in the stern. There was one man at the 
rudder, one to tend the engines, and two burly 
police-inspectors forward. 

"Where to?" asked Jones. 

"To the Tower. Tell them to stop opposite Ja- 
cobson's Yard." 

Our craft was evidently a very fast one. We 
shot past the long lines of loaded barges as though 
they were stationary. Holmes smiled with satisfac- 
tion as we overhauled a river steamer and left her 
behind us. 

"We ought to be able to catch anything on the 
river," he said. 



"Well, hardly that. But there are not many 
launches to beat us." 

"We shall have to catch the Aurora, and she has 
a name for being a clipper. I will tell you how the 
land lies, Watson. You recollect how annoyed I was 
at being balked by so small a thing?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, I gave my mind a thorough rest by 
plunging into a chemical analysis. One of our 
greatest statesmen has said that a change of work 
is the best rest. So it is. When I had succeeded in 
dissolving the hydrocarbon which I was at work 
at, I came back to our problem of the Sholtos, and 
thought the whole matter out again. My boys had 
been up the river and down the river without re- 
sult. The launch was not at any landing-stage or 
wharf, nor had it returned. Yet it could hardly 
have been scuttled to hide their traces, — though 
that always remained as a possible hypothesis if 
all else failed. I knew this man Small had a certain 
degree of low cunning, but I did not think him ca- 
pable of anything in the nature of delicate finesse. 
That is usually a product of higher education. I 
then reflected that since he had certainly been in 
London some time — as we had evidence that he 
maintained a continual watch over Pondicherry 
Lodge — he could hardly leave at a moment's no- 
tice, but would need some little time, if it were 
only a day, to arrange his affairs. That was the 
balance of probability, at any rate." 

"It seems to me to be a little weak," said I. "It 
is more probable that he had arranged his affairs 
before ever he set out upon his expedition." 

"No, I hardly think so. This lair of his would 
be too valuable a retreat in case of need for him 
to give it up until he was sure that he could 
do without it. But a second consideration struck 
me. Jonathan Small must have felt that the pecu- 
liar appearance of his companion, however much 
he may have top-coated him, would give rise to 
gossip, and possibly be associated with this Nor- 
wood tragedy. He was quite sharp enough to see 
that. They had started from their head-quarters 
under cover of darkness, and he would wish to 
get back before it was broad light. Now, it was 
past three o'clock, according to Mrs. Smith, when 
they got the boat. It would be quite bright, and 
people would be about in an hour or so. There- 
fore, I argued, they did not go very far. They paid 
Smith well to hold his tongue, reserved his launch 



100 



The Sign of the Four 



for the final escape, and hurried to their lodg- 
ings with the treasure-box. In a couple of nights, 
when they had time to see what view the papers 
took, and whether there was any suspicion, they 
would make their way under cover of darkness to 
some ship at Gravesend or in the Downs, where 
no doubt they had already arranged for passages 
to America or the Colonies." 

"But the launch? They could not have taken 
that to their lodgings." 

"Quite so. I argued that the launch must be 
no great way off, in spite of its invisibility. I then 
put myself in the place of Small, and looked at it 
as a man of his capacity would. He would prob- 
ably consider that to send back the launch or to 
keep it at a wharf would make pursuit easy if the 
police did happen to get on his track. How, then, 
could he conceal the launch and yet have her at 
hand when wanted? I wondered what I should do 
myself if I were in his shoes. I could only think of 
one way of doing it. I might land the launch over 
to some boat-builder or repairer, with directions to 
make a trifling change in her. She would then be 
removed to his shed or hard, and so be effectually 
concealed, while at the same time I could have her 
at a few hours' notice." 

"That seems simple enough. " 

"It is just these very simple things which are 
extremely liable to be overlooked. However, I de- 
termined to act on the idea. I started at once in 
this harmless seaman's rig and inquired at all the 
yards down the river. I drew blank at fifteen, but at 
the sixteenth — Jacobson's — I learned that the Au- 
rora had been handed over to them two days ago 
by a wooden-legged man, with some trivial direc- 
tions as to her rudder. 'There ain't naught amiss 
with her rudder,' said the foreman. 'There she 
lies, with the red streaks.' At that moment who 
should come down but Mordecai Smith, the miss- 
ing owner? He was rather the worse for liquor. I 
should not, of course, have known him, but he bel- 
lowed out his name and the name of his launch. T 
want her to-night at eight o'clock,' said he, — 'eight 
o'clock sharp, mind, for I have two gentlemen who 
won't be kept waiting.' They had evidently paid 
him well, for he was very flush of money, chucking 
shillings about to the men. I followed him some 
distance, but he subsided into an ale-house: so I 
went back to the yard, and, happening to pick up 
one of my boys on the way, I stationed him as a 
sentry over the launch. He is to stand at water's 
edge and wave his handkerchief to us when they 
start. We shall be lying off in the stream, and it will 



be a strange thing if we do not take men, treasure, 
and all." 

"You have planned it all very neatly, whether 
they are the right men or not," said Jones; "but 
if the affair were in my hands I should have had 
a body of police in Jacobson's Yard, and arrested 
them when they came down." 

"Which would have been never. This man 
Small is a pretty shrewd fellow. He would send 
a scout on ahead, and if anything made him sus- 
picious lie snug for another week." 

"But you might have stuck to Mordecai Smith, 
and so been led to their hiding-place," said I. 

"In that case I should have wasted my day. I 
think that it is a hundred to one against Smith 
knowing where they live. As long as he has liquor 
and good pay, why should he ask questions? They 
send him messages what to do. No, I thought over 
every possible course, and this is the best." 

While this conversation had been proceeding, 
we had been shooting the long series of bridges 
which span the Thames. As we passed the City 
the last rays of the sun were gilding the cross upon 
the summit of St. Paul's. It was twilight before we 
reached the Tower. 

"That is Jacobson's Yard," said Holmes, point- 
ing to a bristle of masts and rigging on the Sur- 
rey side. "Cruise gently up and down here under 
cover of this string of lighters." He took a pair of 
night-glasses from his pocket and gazed some time 
at the shore. "I see my sentry at his post," he re- 
marked, "but no sign of a handkerchief." 

"Suppose we go down-stream a short way and 
lie in wait for them," said Jones, eagerly. We were 
all eager by this time, even the policemen and stok- 
ers, who had a very vague idea of what was going 
forward. 

"We have no right to take anything for 
granted," Holmes answered. "It is certainly ten 
to one that they go down-stream, but we cannot 
be certain. From this point we can see the entrance 
of the yard, and they can hardly see us. It will 
be a clear night and plenty of light. We must stay 
where we are. See how the folk swarm over yon- 
der in the gaslight." 

"They are coming from work in the yard." 

"Dirty-looking rascals, but I suppose every one 
has some little immortal spark concealed about 
him. You would not think it, to look at them. There 
is no a priori probability about it. A strange enigma 
is man!" 

"Some one calls him a soul concealed in an an- 
imal," I suggested. 



101 



The Sign of the Four 



"Winwood Reade is good upon the subject," 
said Holmes. "He remarks that, while the individ- 
ual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate 
he becomes a mathematical certainty. You can, for 
example, never foretell what any one man will do, 
but you can say with precision what an average 
number will be up to. Individuals vary, but per- 
centages remain constant. So says the statistician. 
But do I see a handkerchief? Surely there is a white 
flutter over yonder." 

"Yes, it is your boy," I cried. "I can see him 
plainly." 

"And there is the Aurora," exclaimed Holmes, 
"and going like the devil! Full speed ahead, en- 
gineer. Make after that launch with the yellow 
light. By heaven, I shall never forgive myself if 
she proves to have the heels of us!" 

She had slipped unseen through the yard- 
entrance and passed behind two or three small 
craft, so that she had fairly got her speed up before 
we saw her. Now she was flying down the stream, 
near in to the shore, going at a tremendous rate. 
Jones looked gravely at her and shook his head. 

"She is very fast," he said. "I doubt if we shall 
catch her." 

"We must catch her!" cried Holmes, between 
his teeth. "Heap it on, stokers! Make her do all 
she can! If we burn the boat we must have them!" 

We were fairly after her now. The furnaces 
roared, and the powerful engines whizzed and 
clanked, like a great metallic heart. Her sharp, 
steep prow cut through the river-water and sent 
two rolling waves to right and to left of us. With 
every throb of the engines we sprang and quivered 
like a living thing. One great yellow lantern in 
our bows threw a long, flickering funnel of light in 
front of us. Right ahead a dark blur upon the wa- 
ter showed where the Aurora lay, and the swirl of 
white foam behind her spoke of the pace at which 
she was going. We flashed past barges, steamers, 
merchant-vessels, in and out, behind this one and 
round the other. Voices hailed us out of the dark- 
ness, but still the Aurora thundered on, and still we 
followed close upon her track. 

"Pile it on, men, pile it on!" cried Holmes, look- 
ing down into the engine-room, while the fierce 
glow from below beat upon his eager, aquiline 
face. "Get every pound of steam you can." 

"I think we gain a little," said Jones, with his 
eyes on thea Aurora. 

"I am sure of it," said I. "We shall be up with 
her in a very few minutes." 



At that moment, however, as our evil fate 
would have it, a tug with three barges in tow blun- 
dered in between us. It was only by putting our 
helm hard down that we avoided a collision, and 
before we could round them and recover our way 
the Aurora had gained a good two hundred yards. 
She was still, however, well in view, and the murky 
uncertain twilight was setting into a clear starlit 
night. Our boilers were strained to their utmost, 
and the frail shell vibrated and creaked with the 
fierce energy which was driving us along. We had 
shot through the Pool, past the West India Docks, 
down the long Deptford Reach, and up again af- 
ter rounding the Isle of Dogs. The dull blur in 
front of us resolved itself now clearly enough into 
the dainty Aurora. Jones turned our search-light 
upon her, so that we could plainly see the figures 
upon her deck. One man sat by the stern, with 
something black between his knees over which he 
stooped. Beside him lay a dark mass which looked 
like a Newfoundland dog. The boy held the tiller, 
while against the red glare of the furnace I could 
see old Smith, stripped to the waist, and shovel- 
ling coals for dear life. They may have had some 
doubt at first as to whether we were really pur- 
suing them, but now as we followed every wind- 
ing and turning which they took there could no 
longer be any question about it. At Greenwich 
we were about three hundred paces behind them. 
At Blackwall we could not have been more than 
two hundred and fifty. I have coursed many crea- 
tures in many countries during my checkered ca- 
reer, but never did sport give me such a wild thrill 
as this mad, flying man-hunt down the Thames. 
Steadily we drew in upon them, yard by yard. In 
the silence of the night we could hear the panting 
and clanking of their machinery. The man in the 
stern still crouched upon the deck, and his arms 
were moving as though he were busy, while ev- 
ery now and then he would look up and measure 
with a glance the distance which still separated us. 
Nearer we came and nearer. Jones yelled to them 
to stop. We were not more than four boat's lengths 
behind them, both boats flying at a tremendous 
pace. It was a clear reach of the river, with Bark- 
ing Level upon one side and the melancholy Plum- 
stead Marshes upon the other. At our hail the man 
in the stern sprang up from the deck and shook 
his two clinched fists at us, cursing the while in a 
high, cracked voice. He was a good-sized, pow- 
erful man, and as he stood poising himself with 
legs astride I could see that from the thigh down- 
wards there was but a wooden stump upon the 
right side. At the sound of his strident, angry cries 
there was movement in the huddled bundle upon 



102 



The Sign of the Four 



the deck. It straightened itself into a little black 
man — the smallest I have ever seen — with a great, 
misshapen head and a shock of tangled, dishev- 
elled hair. Holmes had already drawn his revolver, 
and I whipped out mine at the sight of this sav- 
age, distorted creature. He was wrapped in some 
sort of dark ulster or blanket, which left only his 
face exposed; but that face was enough to give a 
man a sleepless night. Never have I seen features 
so deeply marked with all bestiality and cruelty. 
His small eyes glowed and burned with a sombre 
light, and his thick lips were writhed back from 
his teeth, which grinned and chattered at us with 
a half animal fury. 

"Fire if he raises his hand," said Holmes, qui- 
etly. We were within a boat's-length by this time, 
and almost within touch of our quarry. I can see 
the two of them now as they stood, the white man 
with his legs far apart, shrieking out curses, and 
the unhallowed dwarf with his hideous face, and 
his strong yellow teeth gnashing at us in the light 
of our lantern. 

It was well that we had so clear a view of him. 
Even as we looked he plucked out from under 
his covering a short, round piece of wood, like a 
school-ruler, and clapped it to his lips. Our pis- 
tols rang out together. He whirled round, threw 
up his arms, and with a kind of choking cough fell 
sideways into the stream. I caught one glimpse of 
his venomous, menacing eyes amid the white swirl 
of the waters. At the same moment the wooden- 
legged man threw himself upon the rudder and 
put it hard down, so that his boat made straight 
in for the southern bank, while we shot past her 
stern, only clearing her by a few feet. We were 
round after her in an instant, but she was already 
nearly at the bank. It was a wild and desolate 
place, where the moon glimmered upon a wide ex- 
panse of marsh-land, with pools of stagnant water 



and beds of decaying vegetation. The launch with 
a dull thud ran up upon the mud-bank, with her 
bow in the air and her stern flush with the water. 
The fugitive sprang out, but his stump instantly 
sank its whole length into the sodden soil. In vain 
he struggled and writhed. Not one step could he 
possibly take either forwards or backwards. He 
yelled in impotent rage, and kicked frantically into 
the mud with his other foot, but his struggles only 
bored his wooden pin the deeper into the sticky 
bank. When we brought our launch alongside he 
was so firmly anchored that it was only by throw- 
ing the end of a rope over his shoulders that we 
were able to haul him out, and to drag him, like 
some evil fish, over our side. The two Smiths, 
father and son, sat sullenly in their launch, but 
came aboard meekly enough when commanded. 
The Aurora herself we hauled off and made fast 
to our stern. A solid iron chest of Indian work- 
manship stood upon the deck. This, there could 
be no question, was the same that had contained 
the ill-omened treasure of the Sholtos. There was 
no key, but it was of considerable weight, so we 
transferred it carefully to our own little cabin. As 
we steamed slowly up-stream again, we flashed 
our search-light in every direction, but there was 
no sign of the Islander. Somewhere in the dark 
ooze at the bottom of the Thames lie the bones of 
that strange visitor to our shores. 

"See here," said Holmes, pointing to the 
wooden hatchway. "We were hardly quick enough 
with our pistols." There, sure enough, just behind 
where we had been standing, stuck one of those 
murderous darts which we knew so well. It must 
have whizzed between us at the instant that we 
fired. Holmes smiled at it and shrugged his shoul- 
ders in his easy fashion, but I confess that it turned 
me sick to think of the horrible death which had 
passed so close to us that night. 



CHAPTER XL 

The Great Agra Treasure 



Our captive sat in the cabin opposite to the 
iron box which he had done so much and waited 
so long to gain. He was a sunburned, reckless- 
eyed fellow, with a net-work of lines and wrinkles 



all over his mahogany features, which told of a 
hard, open-air life. There was a singular promi- 
nence about his bearded chin which marked a man 
who was not to be easily turned from his purpose. 



103 



The Sign of the Four 



His age may have been fifty or thereabouts, for his 
black, curly hair was thickly shot with gray. His 
face in repose was not an unpleasing one, though 
his heavy brows and aggressive chin gave him, 
as I had lately seen, a terrible expression when 
moved to anger. He sat now with his handcuffed 
hands upon his lap, and his head sunk upon his 
breast, while he looked with his keen, twinkling 
eyes at the box which had been the cause of his 
ill-doings. It seemed to me that there was more 
sorrow than anger in his rigid and contained coun- 
tenance. Once he looked up at me with a gleam of 
something like humor in his eyes. 

"Well, Jonathan Small," said Holmes, lighting 
a cigar, "I am sorry that it has come to this." 

"And so am I, sir," he answered, frankly. "I 
don't believe that I can swing over the job. I give 
you my word on the book that I never raised hand 
against Mr. Sholto. It was that little hell-hound 
Tonga who shot one of his cursed darts into him. 
I had no part in it, sir. I was as grieved as if it had 
been my blood-relation. I welted the little devil 
with the slack end of the rope for it, but it was 
done, and I could not undo it again." 

"Have a cigar," said Holmes; "and you had best 
take a pull out of my flask, for you are very wet. 
How could you expect so small and weak a man 
as this black fellow to overpower Mr. Sholto and 
hold him while you were climbing the rope?" 

"You seem to know as much about it as if you 
were there, sir. The truth is that I hoped to find 
the room clear. I knew the habits of the house 
pretty well, and it was the time when Mr. Sholto 
usually went down to his supper. I shall make 
no secret of the business. The best defence that 
I can make is just the simple truth. Now, if it 
had been the old major I would have swung for 
him with a light heart. I would have thought no 
more of knifing him than of smoking this cigar. 
But it's cursed hard that I should be lagged over 
this young Sholto, with whom I had no quarrel 
whatever." 

"You are under the charge of Mr. Athelney 
Jones, of Scotland Yard. He is going to bring you 
up to my rooms, and I shall ask you for a true ac- 
count of the matter. You must make a clean breast 
of it, for if you do I hope that I may be of use 
to you. I think I can prove that the poison acts 
so quickly that the man was dead before ever you 
reached the room." 

"That he was, sir. I never got such a turn in 
my life as when I saw him grinning at me with 
his head on his shoulder as I climbed through the 
window. It fairly shook me, sir. I'd have half killed 



Tonga for it if he had not scrambled off. That was 
how he came to leave his club, and some of his 
darts too, as he tells me, which I dare say helped 
to put you on our track; though how you kept on 
it is more than I can tell. I don't feel no mal- 
ice against you for it. But it does seem a queer 
thing," he added, with a bitter smile, "that I who 
have a fair claim to nigh upon half a million of 
money should spend the first half of my life build- 
ing a breakwater in the Andamans, and am like to 
spend the other half digging drains at Dartmoor. 
It was an evil day for me when first I clapped eyes 
upon the merchant Achmet and had to do with the 
Agra treasure, which never brought anything but 
a curse yet upon the man who owned it. To him 
it brought murder, to Major Sholto it brought fear 
and guilt, to me it has meant slavery for life." 

At this moment Athelney Jones thrust his 
broad face and heavy shoulders into the tiny cabin. 
"Quite a family party," he remarked. "I think I 
shall have a pull at that flask, Holmes. Well, I think 
we may all congratulate each other. Pity we didn't 
take the other alive; but there was no choice. I say, 
Holmes, you must confess that you cut it rather 
fine. It was all we could do to overhaul her." 

"All is well that ends well," said Holmes. "But 
I certainly did not know that the Aurora was such 
a clipper." 

"Smith says she is one of the fastest launches 
on the river, and that if he had had another man to 
help him with the engines we should never have 
caught her. He swears he knew nothing of this 
Norwood business." 

"Neither he did," cried our prisoner, — "not a 
word. I chose his launch because I heard that she 
was a flier. We told him nothing, but we paid him 
well, and he was to get something handsome if we 
reached our vessel, the Esmeralda, at Gravesend, 
outward bound for the Brazils." 

"Well, if he has done no wrong we shall see that 
no wrong comes to him. If we are pretty quick in 
catching our men, we are not so quick in condemn- 
ing them." It was amusing to notice how the conse- 
quential Jones was already beginning to give him- 
self airs on the strength of the capture. From the 
slight smile which played over Sherlock Holmes's 
face, I could see that the speech had not been lost 
upon him. 

"We will be at Vauxhall Bridge presently," said 
Jones, "and shall land you, Dr. Watson, with the 
treasure-box. I need hardly tell you that I am tak- 
ing a very grave responsibility upon myself in do- 
ing this. It is most irregular; but of course an 
agreement is an agreement. I must, however, as 



104 



The Sign of the Four 



a matter of duty, send an inspector with you, since 
you have so valuable a charge. You will drive, no 
doubt?" 

"Yes, I shall drive." 

"It is a pity there is no key, that we may make 
an inventory first. You will have to break it open. 
Where is the key, my man?" 

"At the bottom of the river," said Small, shortly. 

"Hum! There was no use your giving this un- 
necessary trouble. We have had work enough al- 
ready through you. However, doctor, I need not 
warn you to be careful. Bring the box back with 
you to the Baker Street rooms. You will find us 
there, on our way to the station. " 

They landed me at Vauxhall, with my heavy 
iron box, and with a bluff, genial inspector as my 
companion. A quarter of an hour's drive brought 
us to Mrs. Cecil Forrester's. The servant seemed 
surprised at so late a visitor. Mrs. Cecil Forrester 
was out for the evening, she explained, and likely 
to be very late. Miss Mors tan, however, was in 
the drawing-room: so to the drawing-room I went, 
box in hand, leaving the obliging inspector in the 
cab. 

She was seated by the open window, dressed 
in some sort of white diaphanous material, with a 
little touch of scarlet at the neck and waist. The 
soft light of a shaded lamp fell upon her as she 
leaned back in the basket chair, playing over her 
sweet, grave face, and tinting with a dull, metal- 
lic sparkle the rich coils of her luxuriant hair. One 
white arm and hand drooped over the side of the 
chair, and her whole pose and figure spoke of an 
absorbing melancholy. At the sound of my foot- 
fall she sprang to her feet, however, and a bright 
flush of surprise and of pleasure colored her pale 
cheeks. 

"I heard a cab drive up," she said. "I thought 
that Mrs. Forrester had come back very early, but 
I never dreamed that it might be you. What news 
have you brought me?" 

"I have brought something better than news," 
said I, putting down the box upon the table and 
speaking jovially and boisterously, though my 
heart was heavy within me. "I have brought you 
something which is worth all the news in the 
world. I have brought you a fortune." 

She glanced at iron box. "Is that the treasure, 
then?" she asked, coolly enough. 

"Yes, this is the great Agra treasure. Half of it 
is yours and half is Thaddeus Sholto's. You will 
have a couple of hundred thousand each. Think of 
that! An annuity of ten thousand pounds. There 



will be few richer young ladies in England. Is it 
not glorious?" 

I think that I must have been rather overacting 
my delight, and that she detected a hollow ring in 
my congratulations, for I saw her eyebrows rise a 
little, and she glanced at me curiously. 

"If I have it," said she, "I owe it to you." 

"No, no," I answered, "not to me, but to my 
friend Sherlock Holmes. With all the will in the 
world, I could never have followed up a clue which 
has taxed even his analytical genius. As it was, we 
very nearly lost it at the last moment." 

"Pray sit down and tell me all about it, Dr. Wat- 
son," said she. 

I narrated briefly what had occurred since I had 
seen her last, — Holmes's new method of search, 
the discovery of the Aurora, the appearance of 
Athelney Jones, our expedition in the evening, and 
the wild chase down the Thames. She listened 
with parted lips and shining eyes to my recital of 
our adventures. When I spoke of the dart which 
had so narrowly missed us, she turned so white 
that I feared that she was about to faint. 

"It is nothing," she said, as I hastened to pour 
her out some water. "I am all right again. It was a 
shock to me to hear that I had placed my friends 
in such horrible peril." 

"That is all over," I answered. "It was nothing. 
I will tell you no more gloomy details. Let us turn 
to something brighter. There is the treasure. What 
could be brighter than that? I got leave to bring it 
with me, thinking that it would interest you to be 
the first to see it." 

"It would be of the greatest interest to me," she 
said. There was no eagerness in her voice, how- 
ever. It had struck her, doubtless, that it might 
seem ungracious upon her part to be indifferent to 
a prize which had cost so much to win. 

"What a pretty box!" she said, stooping over it. 
"This is Indian work, I suppose?" 

"Yes; it is Benares metal-work." 

"And so heavy!" she exclaimed, trying to raise 
it. "The box alone must be of some value. Where 
is the key?" 

"Small threw it into the Thames," I answered. 
"I must borrow Mrs. Forrester's poker." There was 
in the front a thick and broad hasp, wrought in 
the image of a sitting Buddha. Under this I thrust 
the end of the poker and twisted it outward as a 
lever. The hasp sprang open with a loud snap. 
With trembling fingers I flung back the lid. We 
both stood gazing in astonishment. The box was 
empty! 



105 



The Sign of the Four 



No wonder that it was heavy. The iron-work 
was two-thirds of an inch thick all round. It was 
massive, well made, and solid, like a chest con- 
structed to carry things of great price, but not one 
shred or crumb of metal or jewelry lay within it. It 
was absolutely and completely empty. 

"The treasure is lost," said Miss Morstan, 
calmly. 

As I listened to the words and realized what 
they meant, a great shadow seemed to pass from 
my soul. I did not know how this Agra treasure 
had weighed me down, until now that it was fi- 
nally removed. It was selfish, no doubt, disloyal, 
wrong, but I could realize nothing save that the 



golden barrier was gone from between us. "Thank 
God!" I ejaculated from my very heart. 

She looked at me with a quick, questioning 
smile. "Why do you say that?" she asked. 

"Because you are within my reach again," I 
said, taking her hand. She did not withdraw it. 
"Because I love you, Mary, as truly as ever a man 
loved a woman. Because this treasure, these riches, 
sealed my lips. Now that they are gone I can tell 
you how I love you. That is why I said, 'Thank 
God.' " 

"Then I say, 'Thank God,' too," she whispered, 
as I drew her to my side. Whoever had lost a trea- 
sure, I knew that night that I had gained one. 



CHAPTER XII. 

The Strange Story of Jonathan Small 



A very patient man was that inspector in the 
cab, for it was a weary time before I rejoined him. 
His face clouded over when I showed him the 
empty box. 

"There goes the reward!" said he, gloomily. 
"Where there is no money there is no pay. This 
night's work would have been worth a tenner each 
to Sam Brown and me if the treasure had been 
there." 

"Mr. Thaddeus Sholto is a rich man," I said. 
"He will see that you are rewarded, treasure or 
no." 

The inspector shook his head despondently, 
however. "It's a bad job," he repeated; "and so 
Mr. Athelney Jones will think." 

His forecast proved to be correct, for the de- 
tective looked blank enough when I got to Baker 
Street and showed him the empty box. They had 
only just arrived, Holmes, the prisoner, and he, for 
they had changed their plans so far as to report 
themselves at a station upon the way. My compan- 
ion lounged in his arm-chair with his usual list- 
less expression, while Small sat stolidly opposite 
to him with his wooden leg cocked over his sound 
one. As I exhibited the empty box he leaned back 
in his chair and laughed aloud. 

"This is your doing, Small," said Athelney 
Jones, angrily. 



"Yes, I have put it away where you shall never 
lay hand upon it," he cried, exultantly. "It is my 
treasure; and if I can't have the loot I'll take darned 
good care that no one else does. I tell you that no 
living man has any right to it, unless it is three 
men who are in the Andaman convict-barracks 
and myself. I know now that I cannot have the 
use of it, and I know that they cannot. I have 
acted all through for them as much as for myself. 
It's been the sign of four with us always. Well I 
know that they would have had me do just what I 
have done, and throw the treasure into the Thames 
rather than let it go to kith or kin of Sholto or of 
Morstan. It was not to make them rich that we did 
for Achmet. You'll find the treasure where the key 
is, and where little Tonga is. When I saw that your 
launch must catch us, I put the loot away in a safe 
place. There are no rupees for you this journey." 

"You are deceiving us, Small," said Athelney 
Jones, sternly. "If you had wished to throw the 
treasure into the Thames it would have been eas- 
ier for you to have thrown box and all." 

"Easier for me to throw, and easier for you to 
recover," he answered, with a shrewd, sidelong 
look. "The man that was clever enough to hunt me 
down is clever enough to pick an iron box from the 
bottom of a river. Now that they are scattered over 
five miles or so, it may be a harder job. It went to 
my heart to do it, though. I was half mad when 



106 



The Sign of the Four 



you came up with us. However, there's no good 
grieving over it. I've had ups in my life, and I've 
had downs, but I've learned not to cry over spilled 
milk." 

"This is a very serious matter, Small," said the 
detective. "If you had helped justice, instead of 
thwarting it in this way, you would have had a 
better chance at your trial." 

"Justice!" snarled the ex-convict. "A pretty jus- 
tice! Whose loot is this, if it is not ours? Where 
is the justice that I should give it up to those who 
have never earned it? Look how I have earned 
it! Twenty long years in that fever-ridden swamp, 
all day at work under the mangrove-tree, all night 
chained up in the filthy convict-huts, bitten by 
mosquitoes, racked with ague, bullied by every 
cursed black-faced policeman who loved to take 
it out of a white man. That was how I earned the 
Agra treasure; and you talk to me of justice be- 
cause I cannot bear to feel that I have paid this 
price only that another may enjoy it! I would 
rather swing a score of times, or have one of 
Tonga's darts in my hide, than live in a convict's 
cell and feel that another man is at his ease in a 
palace with the money that should be mine." Small 
had dropped his mask of stoicism, and all this 
came out in a wild whirl of words, while his eyes 
blazed, and the handcuffs clanked together with 
the impassioned movement of his hands. I could 
understand, as I saw the fury and the passion of 
the man, that it was no groundless or unnatural 
terror which had possessed Major Sholto when he 
first learned that the injured convict was upon his 
track. 

"You forget that we know nothing of all this," 
said Holmes quietly. "We have not heard your 
story, and we cannot tell how far justice may orig- 
inally have been on your side." 

"Well, sir, you have been very fair-spoken to 
me, though I can see that I have you to thank that 
I have these bracelets upon my wrists. Still, I bear 
no grudge for that. It is all fair and above-board. If 
you want to hear my story I have no wish to hold it 
back. What I say to you is God's truth, every word 
of it. Thank you; you can put the glass beside me 
here, and I'll put my lips to it if I am dry. 

"I am a Worcestershire man myself, — born near 
Pershore. I dare say you would find a heap of 
Smalls living there now if you were to look. I have 
often thought of taking a look round there, but the 
truth is that I was never much of a credit to the 
family, and I doubt if they would be so very glad 
to see me. They were all steady, chapel-going folk, 
small farmers, well known and respected over the 



country-side, while I was always a bit of a rover. At 
last, however, when I was about eighteen, I gave 
them no more trouble, for I got into a mess over 
a girl, and could only get out of it again by tak- 
ing the queen's shilling and joining the 3d Buffs, 
which was just starting for India. 

"I wasn't destined to do much soldiering, how- 
ever. I had just got past the goose-step, and 
learned to handle my musket, when I was fool 
enough to go swimming in the Ganges. Luckily 
for me, my company sergeant, John Holder, was 
in the water at the same time, and he was one of 
the finest swimmers in the service. A crocodile 
took me, just as I was half-way across, and nipped 
off my right leg as clean as a surgeon could have 
done it, just above the knee. What with the shock 
and the loss of blood, I fainted, and should have 
drowned if Holder had not caught hold of me and 
paddled for the bank. I was five months in hospital 
over it, and when at last I was able to limp out of it 
with this timber toe strapped to my stump I found 
myself invalided out of the army and unfitted for 
any active occupation. 

"I was, as you can imagine, pretty down on my 
luck at this time, for I was a useless cripple though 
not yet in my twentieth year. However, my misfor- 
tune soon proved to be a blessing in disguise. A 
man named Abelwhite, who had come out there as 
an indigo-planter, wanted an overseer to look after 
his coolies and keep them up to their work. He 
happened to be a friend of our colonel's, who had 
taken an interest in me since the accident. To make 
a long story short, the colonel recommended me 
strongly for the post and, as the work was mostly 
to be done on horseback, my leg was no great ob- 
stacle, for I had enough knee left to keep good grip 
on the saddle. What I had to do was to ride over 
the plantation, to keep an eye on the men as they 
worked, and to report the idlers. The pay was 
fair, I had comfortable quarters, and altogether I 
was content to spend the remainder of my life in 
indigo-planting. Mr. Abelwhite was a kind man, 
and he would often drop into my little shanty and 
smoke a pipe with me, for white folk out there feel 
their hearts warm to each other as they never do 
here at home. 

"Well, I was never in luck's way long. Sud- 
denly, without a note of warning, the great mutiny 
broke upon us. One month India lay as still and 
peaceful, to all appearance, as Surrey or Kent; the 
next there were two hundred thousand black dev- 
ils let loose, and the country was a perfect hell. Of 
course you know all about it, gentlemen, — a deal 
more than I do, very like, since reading is not in 



107 



The Sign of the Four 



my line. I only know what I saw with my own 
eyes. Our plantation was at a place called Muttra, 
near the border of the Northwest Provinces. Night 
after night the whole sky was alight with the burn- 
ing bungalows, and day after day we had small 
companies of Europeans passing through our es- 
tate with their wives and children, on their way 
to Agra, where were the nearest troops. Mr. Abel- 
white was an obstinate man. He had it in his head 
that the affair had been exaggerated, and that it 
would blow over as suddenly as it had sprung up. 
There he sat on his veranda, drinking whiskey- 
pegs and smoking cheroots, while the country was 
in a blaze about him. Of course we stuck by him, 
I and Dawson, who, with his wife, used to do the 
book-work and the managing. Well, one fine day 
the crash came. I had been away on a distant plan- 
tation, and was riding slowly home in the evening, 
when my eye fell upon something all huddled to- 
gether at the bottom of a steep nullah. I rode down 
to see what it was, and the cold struck through my 
heart when I found it was Dawson's wife, all cut 
into ribbons, and half eaten by jackals and native 
dogs. A little further up the road Dawson him- 
self was lying on his face, quite dead, with an 
empty revolver in his hand and four Sepoys lying 
across each other in front of him. I reined up my 
horse, wondering which way I should turn, but at 
that moment I saw thick smoke curling up from 
Abelwhite's bungalow and the flames beginning 
to burst through the roof. I knew then that I could 
do my employer no good, but would only throw 
my own life away if I meddled in the matter. From 
where I stood I could see hundreds of the black 
fiends, with their red coats still on their backs, 
dancing and howling round the burning house. 
Some of them pointed at me, and a couple of bul- 
lets sang past my head; so I broke away across the 
paddy-fields, and found myself late at night safe 
within the walls at Agra. 

"As it proved, however, there was no great 
safety there, either. The whole country was up 
like a swarm of bees. Wherever the English could 
collect in little bands they held just the ground 
that their guns commanded. Everywhere else they 
were helpless fugitives. It was a fight of the mil- 
lions against the hundreds; and the cruellest part 
of it was that these men that we fought against, 
foot, horse, and gunners, were our own picked 
troops, whom we had taught and trained, han- 
dling our own weapons, and blowing our own 
bugle-calls. At Agra there were the 3d Bengal 
Fusiliers, some Sikhs, two troops of horse, and a 
battery of artillery. A volunteer corps of clerks 
and merchants had been formed, and this I joined, 



wooden leg and all. We went out to meet the rebels 
at Shahgunge early in July, and we beat them back 
for a time, but our powder gave out, and we had 
to fall back upon the city. Nothing but the worst 
news came to us from every side, — which is not to 
be wondered at, for if you look at the map you will 
see that we were right in the heart of it. Lucknow 
is rather better than a hundred miles to the east, 
and Cawnpore about as far to the south. From ev- 
ery point on the compass there was nothing but 
torture and murder and outrage. 

"The city of Agra is a great place, swarming 
with fanatics and fierce devil-worshippers of all 
sorts. Our handful of men were lost among the 
narrow, winding streets. Our leader moved across 
the river, therefore, and took up his position in the 
old fort at Agra. I don't know if any of you gentle- 
men have ever read or heard anything of that old 
fort. It is a very queer place, — the queerest that 
ever I was in, and I have been in some rum corners, 
too. First of all, it is enormous in size. I should 
think that the enclosure must be acres and acres. 
There is a modern part, which took all our garri- 
son, women, children, stores, and everything else, 
with plenty of room over. But the modern part 
is nothing like the size of the old quarter, where 
nobody goes, and which is given over to the scor- 
pions and the centipedes. It is all full of great de- 
serted halls, and winding passages, and long cor- 
ridors twisting in and out, so that it is easy enough 
for folk to get lost in it. For this reason it was sel- 
dom that any one went into it, though now and 
again a party with torches might go exploring. 

"The river washes along the front of the old 
fort, and so protects it, but on the sides and be- 
hind there are many doors, and these had to be 
guarded, of course, in the old quarter as well as in 
that which was actually held by our troops. We 
were short-handed, with hardly men enough to 
man the angles of the building and to serve the 
guns. It was impossible for us, therefore, to sta- 
tion a strong guard at every one of the innumer- 
able gates. What we did was to organize a cen- 
tral guard-house in the middle of the fort, and 
to leave each gate under the charge of one white 
man and two or three natives. I was selected to 
take charge during certain hours of the night of 
a small isolated door upon the southwest side of 
the building. Two Sikh troopers were placed un- 
der my command, and I was instructed if anything 
went wrong to fire my musket, when I might rely 
upon help coming at once from the central guard. 
As the guard was a good two hundred paces away, 
however, and as the space between was cut up into 
a labyrinth of passages and corridors, I had great 



108 



The Sign of the Four 



doubts as to whether they could arrive in time to 
be of any use in case of an actual attack. 

"Well, I was pretty proud at having this small 
command given me, since I was a raw recruit, and 
a game-legged one at that. For two nights I kept 
the watch with my Punjaubees. They were tall, 
fierce-looking chaps, Mahomet Singh and Abdul- 
lah Khan by name, both old fighting-men who had 
borne arms against us at Chilian-wallah. They 
could talk English pretty well, but I could get little 
out of them. They preferred to stand together and 
jabber all night in their queer Sikh lingo. For my- 
self, I used to stand outside the gate-way, looking 
down on the broad, winding river and on the twin- 
kling lights of the great city. The beating of drums, 
the rattle of tomtoms, and the yells and howls of 
the rebels, drunk with opium and with bang, were 
enough to remind us all night of our dangerous 
neighbors across the stream. Every two hours the 
officer of the night used to come round to all the 
posts, to make sure that all was well. 

"The third night of my watch was dark and 
dirty, with a small, driving rain. It was dreary 
work standing in the gate-way hour after hour in 
such weather. I tried again and again to make my 
Sikhs talk, but without much success. At two in 
the morning the rounds passed, and broke for a 
moment the weariness of the night. Finding that 
my companions would not be led into conversa- 
tion, I took out my pipe, and laid down my mus- 
ket to strike the match. In an instant the two Sikhs 
were upon me. One of them snatched my firelock 
up and levelled it at my head, while the other held 
a great knife to my throat and swore between his 
teeth that he would plunge it into me if I moved a 
step. 

"My first thought was that these fellows were 
in league with the rebels, and that this was the 
beginning of an assault. If our door were in the 
hands of the Sepoys the place must fall, and the 
women and children be treated as they were in 
Cawnpore. Maybe you gentlemen think that I am 
just making out a case for myself, but I give you 
my word that when I thought of that, though I 
felt the point of the knife at my throat, I opened 
my mouth with the intention of giving a scream, 
if it was my last one, which might alarm the main 
guard. The man who held me seemed to know 
my thoughts; for, even as I braced myself to it, he 
whispered, 'Don't make a noise. The fort is safe 
enough. There are no rebel dogs on this side of 
the river.' There was the ring of truth in what he 
said, and I knew that if I raised my voice I was a 
dead man. I could read it in the fellow's brown 



eyes. I waited, therefore, in silence, to see what it 
was that they wanted from me. 

" 'Listen to me, Sahib,' said the taller and fiercer 
of the pair, the one whom they called Abdullah 
Khan. 'You must either be with us now or you 
must be silenced forever. The thing is too great 
a one for us to hesitate. Either you are heart and 
soul with us on your oath on the cross of the Chris- 
tians, or your body this night shall be thrown into 
the ditch and we shall pass over to our brothers in 
the rebel army. There is no middle way. Which is 
it to be, death or life? We can only give you three 
minutes to decide, for the time is passing, and all 
must be done before the rounds come again.' 

" 'How can I decide?' said I. 'You have not told 
me what you want of me. But I tell you know that 
if it is anything against the safety of the fort I will 
have no truck with it, so you can drive home your 
knife and welcome.' 

" 'It is nothing against the fort,' said he. 'We 
only ask you to do that which your countrymen 
come to this land for. We ask you to be rich. If you 
will be one of us this night, we will swear to you 
upon the naked knife, and by the threefold oath 
which no Sikh was ever known to break, that you 
shall have your fair share of the loot. A quarter of 
the treasure shall be yours. We can say no fairer.' 

" 'But what is the treasure, then?' I asked. T 
am as ready to be rich as you can be, if you will 
but show me how it can be done.' 

" 'You will swear, then,' said he, 'by the bones 
of your father, by the honor of your mother, by the 
cross of your faith, to raise no hand and speak no 
word against us, either now or afterwards?' 

" 1 will swear it,' I answered, 'provided that the 
fort is not endangered.' 

" 'Then my comrade and I will swear that you 
shall have a quarter of the treasure which shall be 
equally divided among the four of us.' 

" 'There are but three,' said I. 

" 'No; Dost Akbar must have his share. We can 
tell the tale to you while we await them. Do you 
stand at the gate, Mahomet Singh, and give no- 
tice of their coming. The thing stands thus, Sahib, 
and I tell it to you because I know that an oath is 
binding upon a Feringhee, and that we may trust 
you. Had you been a lying Hindoo, though you 
had sworn by all the gods in their false temples, 
your blood would have been upon the knife, and 
your body in the water. But the Sikh knows the 
Englishman, and the Englishman knows the Sikh. 
Hearken, then, to what I have to say. 



109 



The Sign of the Four 



" 'There is a rajah in the northern provinces 
who has much wealth, though his lands are small. 
Much has come to him from his father, and more 
still he has set by himself, for he is of a low nature 
and hoards his gold rather than spend it. When 
the troubles broke out he would be friends both 
with the lion and the tiger, — with the Sepoy and 
with the Company's raj. Soon, however, it seemed 
to him that the white men's day was come, for 
through all the land he could hear of nothing but 
of their death and their overthrow. Yet, being a 
careful man, he made such plans that, come what 
might, half at least of his treasure should be left to 
him. That which was in gold and silver he kept by 
him in the vaults of his palace, but the most pre- 
cious stones and the choicest pearls that he had he 
put in an iron box, and sent it by a trusty servant 
who, under the guise of a merchant, should take it 
to the fort at Agra, there to lie until the land is at 
peace. Thus, if the rebels won he would have his 
money, but if the Company conquered his jewels 
would be saved to him. Having thus divided his 
hoard, he threw himself into the cause of the Se- 
poys, since they were strong upon his borders. By 
doing this, mark you, Sahib, his property becomes 
the due of those who have been true to their salt. 

" 'This pretended merchant, who travels under 
the name of Achmet, is now in the city of Agra, 
and desires to gain his way into the fort. He 
has with him as travelling-companion my foster- 
brother Dost Akbar, who knows his secret. Dost 
Akbar has promised this night to lead him to a 
side-postern of the fort, and has chosen this one for 
his purpose. Here he will come presently, and here 
he will find Mahomet Singh and myself awaiting 
him. The place is lonely, and none shall know of 
his coming. The world shall know of the merchant 
Achmet no more, but the great treasure of the ra- 
jah shall be divided among us. What say you to it, 
Sahib?' 

"In Worcestershire the life of a man seems a 
great and a sacred thing; but it is very different 
when there is fire and blood all round you and 
you have been used to meeting death at every turn. 
Whether Achmet the merchant lived or died was 
a thing as light as air to me, but at the talk about 
the treasure my heart turned to it, and I thought 
of what I might do in the old country with it, 
and how my folk would stare when they saw their 
ne'er-do-well coming back with his pockets full of 
gold moidores. I had, therefore, already made up 
my mind. Abdullah Khan, however, thinking that 
I hesitated, pressed the matter more closely. 

" 'Consider, Sahib,' said he, 'that if this man is 
taken by the commandant he will be hung or shot, 



and his jewels taken by the government, so that no 
man will be a rupee the better for them. Now, since 
we do the taking of him, why should we not do the 
rest as well? The jewels will be as well with us as 
in the Company's coffers. There will be enough 
to make every one of us rich men and great chiefs. 
No one can know about the matter, for here we are 
cut off from all men. What could be better for the 
purpose? Say again, then, Sahib, whether you are 
with us, or if we must look upon you as an enemy' 

" 1 am with you heart and soul,' said I. 

" 'It is well,' he answered, handing me back my 
firelock. 'You see that we trust you, for your word, 
like ours, is not to be broken. We have now only 
to wait for my brother and the merchant.' 

" 'Does your brother know, then, of what you 
will do?' I asked. 

" 'The plan is his. He has devised it. We will 
go to the gate and share the watch with Mahomet 
Singh.' 

"The rain was still falling steadily, for it was 
just the beginning of the wet season. Brown, heavy 
clouds were drifting across the sky, and it was hard 
to see more than a stone-cast. A deep moat lay 
in front of our door, but the water was in places 
nearly dried up, and it could easily be crossed. It 
was strange to me to be standing there with those 
two wild Punjaubees waiting for the man who was 
coming to his death. 

"Suddenly my eye caught the glint of a shaded 
lantern at the other side of the moat. It van- 
ished among the mound-heaps, and then appeared 
again coming slowly in our direction. 

" 'Here they are!' I exclaimed. 

" 'You will challenge him, Sahib, as usual,' 
whispered Abdullah. 'Give him no cause for fear. 
Send us in with him, and we shall do the rest while 
you stay here on guard. Have the lantern ready to 
uncover, that we may be sure that it is indeed the 
man.' 

"The light had flickered onwards, now stop- 
ping and now advancing, until I could see two 
dark figures upon the other side of the moat. I 
let them scramble down the sloping bank, splash 
through the mire, and climb half-way up to the 
gate, before I challenged them. 

" 'Who goes there?' said I, in a subdued voice. 

" 'Friends,' came the answer. I uncovered my 
lantern and threw a flood of light upon them. The 
first was an enormous Sikh, with a black beard 
which swept nearly down to his cummerbund. 
Outside of a show I have never seen so tall a man. 
The other was a little, fat, round fellow, with a 
great yellow turban, and a bundle in his hand, 



no 



The Sign of the Four 



done up in a shawl. He seemed to be all in a quiver 
with fear, for his hands twitched as if he had the 
ague, and his head kept turning to left and right 
with two bright little twinkling eyes, like a mouse 
when he ventures out from his hole. It gave me the 
chills to think of killing him, but I thought of the 
treasure, and my heart set as hard as a flint within 
me. When he saw my white face he gave a little 
chirrup of joy and came running up towards me. 

" 'Your protection, Sahib,' he panted, — 'your 
protection for the unhappy merchant Achmet. I 
have travelled across Rajpootana that I might seek 
the shelter of the fort at Agra. I have been robbed 
and beaten and abused because I have been the 
friend of the Company. It is a blessed night this 
when I am once more in safety, — I and my poor 
possessions.' 

" 'What have you in the bundle?' I asked. 

" 'An iron box,' he answered, 'which contains 
one or two little family matters which are of no 
value to others, but which I should be sorry to 
lose. Yet I am not a beggar; and I shall reward 
you, young Sahib, and your governor also, if he 
will give me the shelter I ask.' 

"I could not trust myself to speak longer with 
the man. The more I looked at his fat, frightened 
face, the harder did it seem that we should slay 
him in cold blood. It was best to get it over. 

" 'Take him to the main guard,' said I. The two 
Sikhs closed in upon him on each side, and the gi- 
ant walked behind, while they marched in through 
the dark gate-way Never was a man so compassed 
round with death. I remained at the gate-way with 
the lantern. 

"I could hear the measured tramp of their foot- 
steps sounding through the lonely corridors. Sud- 
denly it ceased, and I heard voices, and a scuffle, 
with the sound of blows. A moment later there 
came, to my horror, a rush of footsteps coming in 
my direction, with the loud breathing of a running 
man. I turned my lantern down the long, straight 
passage, and there was the fat man, running like 
the wind, with a smear of blood across his face, 
and close at his heels, bounding like a tiger, the 
great black-bearded Sikh, with a knife flashing in 
his hand. I have never seen a man run so fast as 
that little merchant. He was gaining on the Sikh, 
and I could see that if he once passed me and got 
to the open air he would save himself yet. My 
heart softened to him, but again the thought of 
his treasure turned me hard and bitter. I cast my 
firelock between his legs as he raced past, and he 
rolled twice over like a shot rabbit. Ere he could 
stagger to his feet the Sikh was upon him, and 



buried his knife twice in his side. The man never 
uttered moan nor moved muscle, but lay were he 
had fallen. I think myself that he may have broken 
his neck with the fall. You see, gentlemen, that I 
am keeping my promise. I am telling you every 
work of the business just exactly as it happened, 
whether it is in my favor or not." 

He stopped, and held out his manacled hands 
for the whiskey-and-water which Holmes had 
brewed for him. For myself, I confess that I had 
now conceived the utmost horror of the man, not 
only for this cold-blooded business in which he 
had been concerned, but even more for the some- 
what flippant and careless way in which he nar- 
rated it. Whatever punishment was in store for 
him, I felt that he might expect no sympathy from 
me. Sherlock Holmes and Jones sat with their 
hands upon their knees, deeply interested in the 
story, but with the same disgust written upon their 
faces. He may have observed it, for there was a 
touch of defiance in his voice and manner as he 
proceeded. 

"It was all very bad, no doubt," said he. "I 
should like to know how many fellows in my 
shoes would have refused a share of this loot when 
they knew that they would have their throats cut 
for their pains. Besides, it was my life or his when 
once he was in the fort. If he had got out, the 
whole business would come to light, and I should 
have been court-martialled and shot as likely as 
not; for people were not very lenient at a time like 
that." 

"Go on with your story," said Holmes, shortly. 

"Well, we carried him in, Abdullah, Akbar, and 
I. A fine weight he was, too, for all that he was so 
short. Mahomet Singh was left to guard the door. 
We took him to a place which the Sikhs had al- 
ready prepared. It was some distance off, where a 
winding passage leads to a great empty hall, the 
brick walls of which were all crumbling to pieces. 
The earth floor had sunk in at one place, making 
a natural grave, so we left Achmet the merchant 
there, having first covered him over with loose 
bricks. This done, we all went back to the treasure. 

"It lay where he had dropped it when he was 
first attacked. The box was the same which now 
lies open upon your table. A key was hung by 
a silken cord to that carved handle upon the top. 
We opened it, and the light of the lantern gleamed 
upon a collection of gems such as I have read of 
and thought about when I was a little lad at Per- 
shore. It was blinding to look upon them. When 
we had feasted our eyes we took them all out and 
made a list of them. There were one hundred and 



111 



The Sign of the Four 



forty-three diamonds of the first water, including 
one which has been called, I believe, 'the Great 
Mogul' and is said to be the second largest stone 
in existence. Then there were ninety-seven very 
fine emeralds, and one hundred and seventy ru- 
bies, some of which, however, were small. There 
were forty carbuncles, two hundred and ten sap- 
phires, sixty-one agates, and a great quantity of 
beryls, onyxes, cats'-eyes, turquoises, and other 
stones, the very names of which I did not know 
at the time, though I have become more familiar 
with them since. Besides this, there were nearly 
three hundred very fine pearls, twelve of which 
were set in a gold coronet. By the way, these last 
had been taken out of the chest and were not there 
when I recovered it. 

"After we had counted our treasures we put 
them back into the chest and carried them to the 
gate-way to show them to Mahomet Singh. Then 
we solemnly renewed our oath to stand by each 
other and be true to our secret. We agreed to 
conceal our loot in a safe place until the country 
should be at peace again, and then to divide it 
equally among ourselves. There was no use di- 
viding it at present, for if gems of such value were 
found upon us it would cause suspicion, and there 
was no privacy in the fort nor any place where 
we could keep them. We carried the box, there- 
fore, into the same hall where we had buried the 
body, and there, under certain bricks in the best- 
preserved wall, we made a hollow and put our 
treasure. We made careful note of the place, and 
next day I drew four plans, one for each of us, and 
put the sign of the four of us at the bottom, for we 
had sworn that we should each always act for all, 
so that none might take advantage. That is an oath 
that I can put my hand to my heart and swear that 
I have never broken. 

"Well, there's no use my telling you gentle- 
men what came of the Indian mutiny. After Wil- 
son took Delhi and Sir Colin relieved Lucknow the 
back of the business was broken. Fresh troops 
came pouring in, and Nana Sahib made himself 
scarce over the frontier. A flying column under 
Colonel Greathed came round to Agra and cleared 
the Pandies away from it. Peace seemed to be set- 
tling upon the country, and we four were begin- 
ning to hope that the time was at hand when we 
might safely go off with our shares of the plunder. 
In a moment, however, our hopes were shattered 
by our being arrested as the murderers of Achmet. 

"It came about in this way. When the rajah put 
his jewels into the hands of Achmet he did it be- 
cause he knew that he was a trusty man. They 



are suspicious folk in the East, however: so what 
does this rajah do but take a second even more 
trusty servant and set him to play the spy upon 
the first? This second man was ordered never to 
let Achmet out of his sight, and he followed him 
like his shadow. He went after him that night and 
saw him pass through the doorway. Of course 
he thought he had taken refuge in the fort, and 
applied for admission there himself next day, but 
could find no trace of Achmet. This seemed to him 
so strange that he spoke about it to a sergeant of 
guides, who brought it to the ears of the comman- 
dant. A thorough search was quickly made, and 
the body was discovered. Thus at the very mo- 
ment that we thought that all was safe we were 
all four seized and brought to trial on a charge of 
murder, — three of us because we had held the gate 
that night, and the fourth because he was known 
to have been in the company of the murdered man. 
Not a word about the jewels came out at the trial, 
for the rajah had been deposed and driven out 
of India: so no one had any particular interest in 
them. The murder, however, was clearly made out, 
and it was certain that we must all have been con- 
cerned in it. The three Sikhs got penal servitude 
for life, and I was condemned to death, though my 
sentence was afterwards commuted into the same 
as the others. 

"It was rather a queer position that we found 
ourselves in then. There we were all four tied by 
the leg and with precious little chance of ever get- 
ting out again, while we each held a secret which 
might have put each of us in a palace if we could 
only have made use of it. It was enough to make 
a man eat his heart out to have to stand the kick 
and the cuff of every petty jack-in-office, to have 
rice to eat and water to drink, when that gorgeous 
fortune was ready for him outside, just waiting to 
be picked up. It might have driven me mad; but I 
was always a pretty stubborn one, so I just held on 
and bided my time. 

"At last it seemed to me to have come. I was 
changed from Agra to Madras, and from there to 
Blair Island in the Andamans. There are very few 
white convicts at this settlement, and, as I had be- 
haved well from the first, I soon found myself a 
sort of privileged person. I was given a hut in 
Hope Town, which is a small place on the slopes 
of Mount Harriet, and I was left pretty much to 
myself. It is a dreary, fever-stricken place, and all 
beyond our little clearings was infested with wild 
cannibal natives, who were ready enough to blow 
a poisoned dart at us if they saw a chance. There 
was digging, and ditching, and yam-planting, and 
a dozen other things to be done, so we were busy 



112 



The Sign of the Four 



enough all day; though in the evening we had a 
little time to ourselves. Among other things, I 
learned to dispense drugs for the surgeon, and 
picked up a smattering of his knowledge. All the 
time I was on the lookout for a chance of escape; 
but it is hundreds of miles from any other land, 
and there is little or no wind in those seas: so it 
was a terribly difficult job to get away. 

"The surgeon, Dr. Somerton, was a fast, sport- 
ing young chap, and the other young officers 
would meet in his rooms of an evening and play 
cards. The surgery, where I used to make up my 
drugs, was next to his sitting-room, with a small 
window between us. Often, if I felt lonesome, 
I used to turn out the lamp in the surgery, and 
then, standing there, I could hear their talk and 
watch their play. I am fond of a hand at cards 
myself, and it was almost as good as having one 
to watch the others. There was Major Sholto, Cap- 
tain Morstan, and Lieutenant Bromley Brown, who 
were in command of the native troops, and there 
was the surgeon himself, and two or three prison- 
officials, crafty old hands who played a nice sly 
safe game. A very snug little party they used to 
make. 

"Well, there was one thing which very soon 
struck me, and that was that the soldiers used al- 
ways to lose and the civilians to win. Mind, I don't 
say that there was anything unfair, but so it was. 
These prison-chaps had done little else than play 
cards ever since they had been at the Andamans, 
and they knew each other's game to a point, while 
the others just played to pass the time and threw 
their cards down anyhow. Night after night the 
soldiers got up poorer men, and the poorer they 
got the more keen they were to play Major Sholto 
was the hardest hit. He used to pay in notes and 
gold at first, but soon it came to notes of hand 
and for big sums. He sometimes would win for a 
few deals, just to give him heart, and then the luck 
would set in against him worse than ever. All day 
he would wander about as black as thunder, and 
he took to drinking a deal more than was good for 
him. 

"One night he lost even more heavily than 
usual. I was sitting in my hut when he and Cap- 
tain Morstan came stumbling along on the way to 
their quarters. They were bosom friends, those 
two, and never far apart. The major was raving 
about his losses. 

" 'It's all up, Morstan,' he was saying, as they 
passed my hut. T shall have to send in my papers. 
I am a ruined man.' 



" 'Nonsense, old chap!' said the other, slapping 
him upon the shoulder. 'I've had a nasty facer my- 
self, but — ' That was all I could hear, but it was 
enough to set me thinking. 

A couple of days later Major Sholto was 
strolling on the beach: so I took the chance of 
speaking to him. 

" 1 wish to have your advice, major,' said I. 

" 'Well, Small, what is it?' he asked, taking his 
cheroot from his lips. 

" T wanted to ask you, sir,' said I, 'who is the 
proper person to whom hidden treasure should be 
handed over. I know where half a million worth 
lies, and, as I cannot use it myself, I thought per- 
haps the best thing that I could do would be to 
hand it over to the proper authorities, and then 
perhaps they would get my sentence shortened for 
me.' 

" 'Half a million, Small?' he gasped, looking 
hard at me to see if I was in earnest. 

" 'Quite that, sir, — in jewels and pearls. It lies 
there ready for anyone. And the queer thing about 
it is that the real owner is outlawed and cannot 
hold property, so that it belongs to the first comer.' 

" 'To government, Small,' he stammered, — 'to 
government.' But he said it in a halting fashion, 
and I knew in my heart that I had got him. 

" 'You think, then, sir, that I should give the 
information to the Governor-General?' said I, qui- 
etly. 

" 'Well, well, you must not do anything rash, 
or that you might repent. Let me hear all about it, 
Small. Give me the facts.' 

"I told him the whole story, with small changes 
so that he could not identify the places. When 
I had finished he stood stock still and full of 
thought. I could see by the twitch of his lip that 
there was a struggle going on within him. 

" 'This is a very important matter, Small,' he 
said, at last. 'You must not say a word to any one 
about it, and I shall see you again soon.' 

"Two nights later he and his friend Captain 
Morstan came to my hut in the dead of the night 
with a lantern. 

" 1 want you just to let Captain Morstan hear 
that story from your own lips, Small,' said he. 

"I repeated it as I had told it before. 

" 'It rings true, eh?' said he. 'It's good enough 
to act upon?' 

"Captain Morstan nodded. 



113 



The Sign of the Four 



" 'Look here, Small/ said the major. 'We have 
been talking it over, my friend here and I, and 
we have come to the conclusion that this secret of 
yours is hardly a government matter, after all, but 
is a private concern of your own, which of course 
you have the power of disposing of as you think 
best. Now, the question is, what price would you 
ask for it? We might be inclined to take it up, and 
at least look into it, if we could agree as to terms.' 
He tried to speak in a cool, careless way, but his 
eyes were shining with excitement and greed. 

" 'Why, as to that, gentlemen,' I answered, try- 
ing also to be cool, but feeling as excited as he 
did, 'there is only one bargain which a man in my 
position can make. I shall want yo to help me to 
my freedom, and to help my three companions to 
theirs. We shall then take yo into partnership, and 
give you a fifth share to divide between you.' 

"'Hum!' said he. 'A fifth share! That is not 
very tempting.' 

" 'It would come to fifty thousand apiece,' said 
I. 

" 'But how can we gain your freedom? You 
know very well that you ask an impossibility' 

" 'Nothing of the sort,' I answered. T have 
thought it all out to the last detail. The only bar 
to our escape is that we can get no boat fit for the 
voyage, and no provisions to last us for so long a 
time. There are plenty of little yachts and yawls 
at Calcutta or Madras which would serve our turn 
well. Do you bring one over. We shall engage to 
get aboard her by night, and if you will drop us 
on any part of the Indian coast you will have done 
your part of the bargain.' 

" 'If there were only one,' he said. 

" 'None or all,' I answered. 'We have sworn it. 
The four of us must always act together.' 

" 'You see, Morstan,' said he, 'Small is a man 
of his word. He does not flinch from his friend. I 
think we may very well trust him.' 

" 'It's a dirty business,' the other answered. 
'Yet, as you say, the money would save our com- 
missions handsomely' 

" 'Well, Small,' said the major, 'we must, I sup- 
pose, try and meet you. We must first, of course, 
test the truth of your story. Tell me where the box 
is hid, and I shall get leave of absence and go back 
to India in the monthly relief-boat to inquire into 
the affair.' 

" 'Not so fast,' said I, growing colder as he got 
hot. 1 must have the consent of my three com- 
rades. I tell you that it is four or none with us.' 



" 'Nonsense!' he broke in. 'What have three 
black fellows to do with our agreement?' 

" 'Black or blue,' said I, 'they are in with me, 
and we all go together.' 

"Well, the matter ended by a second meeting, 
at which Mahomet Singh, Abdullah Khan, and 
Dost Akbar were all present. We talked the matter 
over again, and at last we came to an arrangement. 
We were to provide both the officers with charts of 
the part of the Agra fort and mark the place in the 
wall where the treasure was hid. Major Sholto was 
to go to India to test our story. If he found the box 
he was to leave it there, to send out a small yacht 
provisioned for a voyage, which was to lie off Rut- 
land Island, and to which we were to make our 
way, and finally to return to his duties. Captain 
Morstan was then to apply for leave of absence, to 
meet us at Agra, and there we were to have a fi- 
nal division of the treasure, he taking the major's 
share as well as his own. All this we sealed by the 
most solemn oaths that the mind could think or 
the lips utter. I sat up all night with paper and ink, 
and by the morning I had the two charts all ready, 
signed with the sign of four, — that is, of Abdullah, 
Akbar, Mahomet, and myself. 

"Well, gentlemen, I weary you with my long 
story, and I know that my friend Mr. Jones is im- 
patient to get me safely stowed in chokey I'll 
make it as short as I can. The villain Sholto 
went off to India, but he never came back again. 
Captain Morstan showed me his name among a 
list of passengers in one of the mail-boats very 
shortly afterwards. His uncle had died, leaving 
him a fortune, and he had left the army, yet he 
could stoop to treat five men as he had treated 
us. Morstan went over to Agra shortly afterwards, 
and found, as we expected, that the treasure was 
indeed gone. The scoundrel had stolen it all, with- 
out carrying out one of the conditions on which 
we had sold him the secret. From that day I lived 
only for vengeance. I thought of it by day and 
I nursed it by night. It became an overpower- 
ing, absorbing passion with me. I cared nothing 
for the law, — nothing for the gallows. To escape, 
to track down Sholto, to have my hand upon his 
throat, — that was my one thought. Even the Agra 
treasure had come to be a smaller thing in my 
mind than the slaying of Sholto. 

"Well, I have set my mind on many things in 
this life, and never one which I did not carry out. 
But it was weary years before my time came. I 
have told you that I had picked up something of 
medicine. One day when Dr. Somerton was down 
with a fever a little Andaman Islander was picked 



114 



The Sign of the Four 



up by a convict-gang in the woods. He was sick 
to death, and had gone to a lonely place to die. 
I took him in hand, though he was as venomous 
as a young snake, and after a couple of months I 
got him all right and able to walk. He took a kind 
of fancy to me then, and would hardly go back to 
his woods, but was always hanging about my hut. 
I learned a little of his lingo from him, and this 
made him all the fonder of me. 

"Tonga — for that was his name — was a fine 
boatman, and owned a big, roomy canoe of his 
own. When I found that he was devoted to me and 
would do anything to serve me, I saw my chance 
of escape. I talked it over with him. He was to 
bring his boat round on a certain night to an old 
wharf which was never guarded, and there he was 
to pick me up. I gave him directions to have sev- 
eral gourds of water and a lot of yams, cocoa-nuts, 
and sweet potatoes. 

"He was stanch and true, was little Tonga. No 
man ever had a more faithful mate. At the night 
named he had his boat at the wharf. As it chanced, 
however, there was one of the convict-guard down 
there, — a vile Pathan who had never missed a 
chance of insulting and injuring me. I had always 
vowed vengeance, and now I had my chance. It 
was as if fate had placed him in my way that I 
might pay my debt before I left the island. He 
stood on the bank with his back to me, and his car- 
bine on his shoulder. I looked about for a stone to 
beat out his brains with, but none could I see. Then 
a queer thought came into my head and showed 
me where I could lay my hand on a weapon. I sat 
down in the darkness and unstrapped my wooden 
leg. With three long hops I was on him. He put 
his carbine to his shoulder, but I struck him full, 
and knocked the whole front of his skull in. You 
can see the split in the wood now where I hit him. 
We both went down together, for I could not keep 
my balance, but when I got up I found him still 
lying quiet enough. I made for the boat, and in an 
hour we were well out at sea. Tonga had brought 
all his earthly possessions with him, his arms and 
his gods. Among other things, he had a long bam- 
boo spear, and some Andaman cocoa-nut matting, 
with which I make a sort of sail. For ten days 
we were beating about, trusting to luck, and on 
the eleventh we were picked up by a trader which 
was going from Singapore to Jiddah with a cargo 
of Malay pilgrims. They were a rum crowd, and 
Tonga and I soon managed to settle down among 
them. They had one very good quality: they let 
you alone and asked no questions. 

"Well, if I were to tell you all the adventures 
that my little chum and I went through, you would 



not thank me, for I would have you here until the 
sun was shining. Here and there we drifted about 
the world, something always turning up to keep 
us from London. All the time, however, I never 
lost sight of my purpose. I would dream of Sholto 
at night. A hundred times I have killed him in my 
sleep. At last, however, some three or four years 
ago, we found ourselves in England. I had no great 
difficulty in finding where Sholto lived, and I set 
to work to discover whether he had realized the 
treasure, or if he still had it. I made friends with 
someone who could help me, — I name no names, 
for I don't want to get any one else in a hole, — and 
I soon found that he still had the jewels. Then I 
tried to get at him in many ways; but he was pretty 
sly, and had always two prize-fighters, besides his 
sons and his khitmutgar, on guard over him. 

"One day, however, I got word that he was dy- 
ing. I hurried at once to the garden, mad that 
he should slip out of my clutches like that, and, 
looking through the window, I saw him lying in 
his bed, with his sons on each side of him. I'd 
have come through and taken my chance with the 
three of them, only even as I looked at him his jaw 
dropped, and I knew that he was gone. I got into 
his room that same night, though, and I searched 
his papers to see if there was any record of where 
he had hidden our jewels. There was not a line, 
however: so I came away, bitter and savage as a 
man could be. Before I left I bethought me that 
if I ever met my Sikh friends again it would be a 
satisfaction to know that I had left some mark of 
our hatred: so I scrawled down the sign of the four 
of us, as it had been on the chart, and I pinned it 
on his bosom. It was too much that he should be 
taken to the grave without some token from the 
men whom he had robbed and befooled. 

"We earned a living at this time by my exhibit- 
ing poor Tonga at fairs and other such places as 
the black cannibal. He would eat raw meat and 
dance his war-dance: so we always had a hatful 
of pennies after a day's work. I still heard all the 
news from Pondicherry Lodge, and for some years 
there was no news to hear, except that they were 
hunting for the treasure. At last, however, came 
what we had waited for so long. The treasure had 
been found. It was up at the top of the house, in 
Mr. Bartholomew Sholto's chemical laboratory. I 
came at once and had a look at the place, but I 
could not see how with my wooden leg I was to 
make my way up to it. I learned, however, about a 
trap-door in the roof, and also about Mr. Sholto's 
supper-hour. It seemed to me that I could manage 
the thing easily through Tonga. I brought him out 
with me with a long rope wound round his waist. 



"5 



The Sign of the Four 



He could climb like a cat, and he soon made his 
way through the roof, but, as ill luck would have 
it, Bartholomew Sholto was still in the room, to 
his cost. Tonga thought he had done something 
very clever in killing him, for when I came up by 
the rope I found him strutting about as proud as 
a peacock. Very much surprised was he when I 
made at him with the rope's end and cursed him 
for a little blood-thirsty imp. I took the treasure- 
box and let it down, and then slid down myself, 
having first left the sign of the four upon the ta- 
ble, to show that the jewels had come back at last 
to those who had most right to them. Tonga then 
pulled up the rope, closed the window, and made 
off the way that he had come. 

"I don't know that I have anything else to tell 
you. I had heard a waterman speak of the speed of 
Smith's launch, the Aurora, so I thought she would 
be a handy craft for our escape. I engaged with 
old Smith, and was to give him a big sum if he 
got us safe to our ship. He knew, no doubt, that 
there was some screw loose, but he was not in our 
secrets. All this is the truth, and if I tell it to you, 
gentlemen, it is not to amuse you, — for you have 
not done me a very good turn, — but it is because I 
believe the best defence I can make is just to hold 
back nothing, but let all the wold know how badly 
I have myself been served by Major Sholto, and 
how innocent I am of the death of his son." 

"A very remarkable account," said Sherlock 
Holmes. "A fitting wind-up to an extremely in- 
teresting case. There is nothing at all new to me 
in the latter part of your narrative, except that you 
brought your own rope. That I did not know. By 
the way, I had hoped that Tonga had lost all his 
darts; yet he managed to shoot one at us in the 
boat." 

"He had lost them all, sir, except the one which 
was in his blow-pipe at the time." 

"Ah, of course," said Holmes. "I had not 
thought of that." 

"Is there any other point which you would like 
to ask about?" asked the convict, affably. 

"I think not, thank you," my companion an- 
swered. 

"Well, Holmes," said Athelney Jones, "You are 
a man to be humored, and we all know that you 
are a connoisseur of crime, but duty is duty, and I 
have gone rather far in doing what you and your 
friend asked me. I shall feel more at ease when 
we have our story-teller here safe under lock and 
key. The cab still waits, and there are two inspec- 
tors down-stairs. I am much obliged to you both 
for your assistance. Of course you will be wanted 
at the trial. Good-night to you." 



"Good-night, gentlemen both," said Jonathan 
Small. 

"You first, Small," remarked the wary Jones as 
they left the room. "I'll take particular care that 
you don't club me with your wooden leg, what- 
ever you may have done to the gentleman at the 
Andaman Isles." 

"Well, and there is the end of our little drama," 
I remarked, after we had set some time smoking in 
silence. "I fear that it may be the last investigation 
in which I shall have the chance of studying your 
methods. Miss Mors tan has done me the honor to 
accept me as a husband in prospective." 

He gave a most dismal groan. "I feared as 
much," said he. "I really cannot congratulate you." 

I was a little hurt. "Have you any reason to be 
dissatisfied with my choice?" I asked. 

"Not at all. I think she is one of the most 
charming young ladies I ever met, and might have 
been most useful in such work as we have been do- 
ing. She had a decided genius that way: witness 
the way in which she preserved that Agra plan 
from all the other papers of her father. But love 
is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional 
is opposed to that true cold reason which I place 
above all things. I should never marry myself, lest 
I bias my judgment." 

"I trust," said I, laughing, "that my judgment 
may survive the ordeal. But you look weary." 

"Yes, the reaction is already upon me. I shall 
be as limp as a rag for a week." 

"Strange," said I, "how terms of what in an- 
other man I should call laziness alternate with 
your fits of splendid energy and vigor." 

"Yes," he answered, "there are in me the mak- 
ings of a very fine loafer and also of a pretty spry 
sort of fellow. I often think of those lines of old 
Goethe, — 

Schade, daft die Natur nur 

einen Mensch aus Dir schuf, 

Denn zum wurdigen Mann war 

und zum Schelmen der Stoff. 

"By the way, a propos of this Norwood busi- 
ness, you see that they had, as I surmised, a con- 
federate in the house, who could be none other 
than Lai Rao, the butler: so Jones actually has the 
undivided honor of having caught one fish in his 
great haul." 

"The division seems rather unfair," I remarked. 
"You have done all the work in this business. I get 
a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit, pray what 
remains for you?" 

"For me," said Sherlock Holmes, "there still 
remains the cocaine-bottle." And he stretched his 
long white hand up for it. 



116 



The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



Table of contents 

Chapter 1 123 

Chapter 2 127 

Chapter 3 132 



121 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



CHAPTER I. 




\o Sherlock Holmes she is always the 
woman. I have seldom heard him men- 
tion her under any other name. In his 
eyes she eclipses and predominates the 
whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emo- 
tion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and 
that one particularly were abhorrent to his cold, 
precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I 
take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing 
machine that the world has seen, but as a lover 
he would have placed himself in a false position. 
He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a 
gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for 
the observer — excellent for drawing the veil from 
men's motives and actions. But for the trained rea- 
soner to admit such intrusions into his own del- 
icate and finely adjusted temperament was to in- 
troduce a distracting factor which might throw a 
doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensi- 
tive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high- 
power lenses, would not be more disturbing than 
a strong emotion in a nature such as his. And yet 
there was but one woman to him, and that woman 
was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and question- 
able memory 

I had seen little of Holmes lately. My marriage 
had drifted us away from each other. My own 
complete happiness, and the home-centred inter- 
ests which rise up around the man who first finds 
himself master of his own establishment, were suf- 
ficient to absorb all my attention, while Holmes, 
who loathed every form of society with his whole 
Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in Baker 
Street, buried among his old books, and alternat- 
ing from week to week between cocaine and am- 
bition, the drowsiness of the drug, and the fierce 
energy of his own keen nature. He was still, as 
ever, deeply attracted by the study of crime, and 
occupied his immense faculties and extraordinary 
powers of observation in following out those clues, 
and clearing up those mysteries which had been 
abandoned as hopeless by the official police. From 
time to time I heard some vague account of his 
doings: of his summons to Odessa in the case of 
the Trepoff murder, of his clearing up of the sin- 
gular tragedy of the Atkinson brothers at Trinco- 
malee, and finally of the mission which he had ac- 
complished so delicately and successfully for the 
reigning family of Holland. Beyond these signs of 
his activity, however, which I merely shared with 
all the readers of the daily press, I knew little of 
my former friend and companion. 

One night — it was on the twentieth of March, 



1888 — I was returning from a journey to a patient 
(for I had now returned to civil practice), when my 
way led me through Baker Street. As I passed the 
well-remembered door, which must always be as- 
sociated in my mind with my wooing, and with 
the dark incidents of the Study in Scarlet, I was 
seized with a keen desire to see Holmes again, and 
to know how he was employing his extraordinary 
powers. His rooms were brilliantly lit, and, even as 
I looked up, I saw his tall, spare figure pass twice 
in a dark silhouette against the blind. He was pac- 
ing the room swiftly, eagerly, with his head sunk 
upon his chest and his hands clasped behind him. 
To me, who knew his every mood and habit, his at- 
titude and manner told their own story. He was at 
work again. He had risen out of his drug-created 
dreams and was hot upon the scent of some new 
problem. I rang the bell and was shown up to the 
chamber which had formerly been in part my own. 

His manner was not effusive. It seldom was; 
but he was glad, I think, to see me. With hardly 
a word spoken, but with a kindly eye, he waved 
me to an armchair, threw across his case of cigars, 
and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the 
corner. Then he stood before the fire and looked 
me over in his singular introspective fashion. 

"Wedlock suits you," he remarked. "I think, 
Watson, that you have put on seven and a half 
pounds since I saw you." 

"Seven!" I answered. 

"Indeed, I should have thought a little more. 
Just a trifle more, I fancy, Watson. And in prac- 
tice again, I observe. You did not tell me that you 
intended to go into harness." 

"Then, how do you know?" 

"I see it, I deduce it. How do I know that you 
have been getting yourself very wet lately, and that 
you have a most clumsy and careless servant girl?" 

"My dear Holmes," said I, "this is too much. 
You would certainly have been burned, had you 
lived a few centuries ago. It is true that I had a 
country walk on Thursday and came home in a 
dreadful mess, but as I have changed my clothes I 
can't imagine how you deduce it. As to Mary Jane, 
she is incorrigible, and my wife has given her no- 
tice, but there, again, I fail to see how you work it 
out." 

He chuckled to himself and rubbed his long, 
nervous hands together. 

"It is simplicity itself," said he; "my eyes tell 
me that on the inside of your left shoe, just where 



123 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



the firelight strikes it, the leather is scored by 
six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they have 
been caused by someone who has very carelessly 
scraped round the edges of the sole in order to re- 
move crusted mud from it. Hence, you see, my 
double deduction that you had been out in vile 
weather, and that you had a particularly malignant 
boot-slitting specimen of the London slavey. As to 
your practice, if a gentleman walks into my rooms 
smelling of iodoform, with a black mark of nitrate 
of silver upon his right forefinger, and a bulge on 
the right side of his top-hat to show where he has 
secreted his stethoscope, I must be dull, indeed, if 
I do not pronounce him to be an active member of 
the medical profession." 

I could not help laughing at the ease with 
which he explained his process of deduction. 
"When I hear you give your reasons," I remarked, 
"the thing always appears to me to be so ridicu- 
lously simple that I could easily do it myself, 
though at each successive instance of your rea- 
soning I am baffled until you explain your pro- 
cess. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as 
yours." 

"Quite so," he answered, lighting a cigarette, 
and throwing himself down into an armchair. 
"You see, but you do not observe. The distinction 
is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the 
steps which lead up from the hall to this room." 

"Frequently." 

"How often?" 

"Well, some hundreds of times." 

"Then how many are there?" 

"How many? I don't know." 

"Quite so! You have not observed. And yet 
you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know 
that there are seventeen steps, because I have both 
seen and observed. By-the-way, since you are in- 
terested in these little problems, and since you are 
good enough to chronicle one or two of my tri- 
fling experiences, you may be interested in this." 
He threw over a sheet of thick, pink-tinted note- 
paper which had been lying open upon the table. 
"It came by the last post," said he. "Read it aloud." 

The note was undated, and without either sig- 
nature or address. 

"There will call upon you to-night, at a quar- 
ter to eight o'clock," it said, "a gentleman who 
desires to consult you upon a matter of the very 
deepest moment. Your recent services to one of 
the royal houses of Europe have shown that you 
are one who may safely be trusted with matters 
which are of an importance which can hardly be 



exaggerated. This account of you we have from all 
quarters received. Be in your chamber then at that 
hour, and do not take it amiss if your visitor wear 
a mask." 

"This is indeed a mystery," I remarked. "What 
do you imagine that it means?" 

"I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to 
theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins 
to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to 
suit facts. But the note itself. What do you deduce 
from it?" 

I carefully examined the writing, and the paper 
upon which it was written. 

"The man who wrote it was presumably well 
to do," I remarked, endeavouring to imitate my 
companion's processes. "Such paper could not be 
bought under half a crown a packet. It is pecu- 
liarly strong and stiff." 

"Peculiar — that is the very word," said Holmes. 
"It is not an English paper at all. Hold it up to the 
light." 

I did so, and saw a large "E" with a small "g," 
a "P," and a large "G" with a small "t" woven into 
the texture of the paper. 

"What do you make of that?" asked Holmes. 

"The name of the maker, no doubt; or his 
monogram, rather." 

"Not at all. The 'G' with the small 't' stands 
for 'Gesellschaft,' which is the German for 'Com- 
pany' It is a customary contraction like our 'Co.' 
'P,' of course, stands for 'Papier.' Now for the 
'Eg.' Let us glance at our Continental Gazetteer." 
He took down a heavy brown volume from his 
shelves. "Eglow, Eglonitz — here we are, Egria. It 
is in a German-speaking country — in Bohemia, not 
far from Carlsbad. 'Remarkable as being the scene 
of the death of Wallenstein, and for its numerous 
glass-factories and paper-mills.' Ha, ha, my boy, 
what do you make of that?" His eyes sparkled, and 
he sent up a great blue triumphant cloud from his 
cigarette. 

"The paper was made in Bohemia," I said. 

"Precisely. And the man who wrote the note 
is a German. Do you note the peculiar construc- 
tion of the sentence — 'This account of you we have 
from all quarters received.' A Frenchman or Rus- 
sian could not have written that. It is the German 
who is so uncourteous to his verbs. It only re- 
mains, therefore, to discover what is wanted by 
this German who writes upon Bohemian paper 
and prefers wearing a mask to showing his face. 
And here he comes, if I am not mistaken, to re- 
solve all our doubts." 



124 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



As he spoke there was the sharp sound of 
horses' hoofs and grating wheels against the curb, 
followed by a sharp pull at the bell. Holmes whis- 
tled. 

"A pair, by the sound," said he. "Yes," he con- 
tinued, glancing out of the window. "A nice little 
brougham and a pair of beauties. A hundred and 
fifty guineas apiece. There's money in this case, 
Watson, if there is nothing else." 

"I think that I had better go, Holmes." 

"Not a bit, Doctor. Stay where you are. I am 
lost without my Boswell. And this promises to be 
interesting. It would be a pity to miss it." 

"But your client — " 

"Never mind him. I may want your help, and 
so may he. Here he comes. Sit down in that arm- 
chair, Doctor, and give us your best attention." 

A slow and heavy step, which had been heard 
upon the stairs and in the passage, paused imme- 
diately outside the door. Then there was a loud 
and authoritative tap. 

"Come in!" said Holmes. 

A man entered who could hardly have been 
less than six feet six inches in height, with the chest 
and limbs of a Hercules. His dress was rich with a 
richness which would, in England, be looked upon 
as akin to bad taste. Heavy bands of astrakhan 
were slashed across the sleeves and fronts of his 
double-breasted coat, while the deep blue cloak 
which was thrown over his shoulders was lined 
with flame-coloured silk and secured at the neck 
with a brooch which consisted of a single flam- 
ing beryl. Boots which extended halfway up his 
calves, and which were trimmed at the tops with 
rich brown fur, completed the impression of bar- 
baric opulence which was suggested by his whole 
appearance. He carried a broad-brimmed hat in 
his hand, while he wore across the upper part of 
his face, extending down past the cheekbones, a 
black vizard mask, which he had apparently ad- 
justed that very moment, for his hand was still 
raised to it as he entered. From the lower part of 
the face he appeared to be a man of strong charac- 
ter, with a thick, hanging lip, and a long, straight 
chin suggestive of resolution pushed to the length 
of obstinacy. 

"You had my note?" he asked with a deep 
harsh voice and a strongly marked German accent. 
"I told you that I would call." He looked from one 
to the other of us, as if uncertain which to address. 



"Pray take a seat," said Holmes. "This is my 
friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, who is occasion- 
ally good enough to help me in my cases. Whom 
have I the honour to address?" 

"You may address me as the Count Von 
Kramm, a Bohemian nobleman. I understand that 
this gentleman, your friend, is a man of honour 
and discretion, whom I may trust with a matter 
of the most extreme importance. If not, I should 
much prefer to communicate with you alone." 

I rose to go, but Holmes caught me by the wrist 
and pushed me back into my chair. "It is both, or 
none," said he. "You may say before this gentle- 
man anything which you may say to me." 

The Count shrugged his broad shoulders. 
"Then I must begin," said he, "by binding you 
both to absolute secrecy for two years; at the end of 
that time the matter will be of no importance. At 
present it is not too much to say that it is of such 
weight it may have an influence upon European 
history. " 

"I promise," said Holmes. 

"And I." 

"You will excuse this mask," continued our 
strange visitor. "The august person who employs 
me wishes his agent to be unknown to you, and I 
may confess at once that the title by which I have 
just called myself is not exactly my own." 

"I was aware of it," said Holmes dryly. 

"The circumstances are of great delicacy, and 
every precaution has to be taken to quench what 
might grow to be an immense scandal and seri- 
ously compromise one of the reigning families of 
Europe. To speak plainly, the matter implicates the 
great House of Ormstein, hereditary kings of Bo- 
hemia." 

"I was also aware of that," murmured Holmes, 
settling himself down in his armchair and closing 
his eyes. 

Our visitor glanced with some apparent sur- 
prise at the languid, lounging figure of the man 
who had been no doubt depicted to him as the 
most incisive reasoner and most energetic agent 
in Europe. Holmes slowly reopened his eyes and 
looked impatiently at his gigantic client. 

"If your Majesty would condescend to state 
your case," he remarked, "I should be better able 
to advise you." 

The man sprang from his chair and paced up 
and down the room in uncontrollable agitation. 
Then, with a gesture of desperation, he tore the 
mask from his face and hurled it upon the ground. 



125 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



"You are right," he cried; "I am the King. Why 
should I attempt to conceal it?" 

"Why, indeed?" murmured Holmes. "Your 
Majesty had not spoken before I was aware that 
I was addressing Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond 
von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein, and 
hereditary King of Bohemia." 

"But you can understand," said our strange vis- 
itor, sitting down once more and passing his hand 
over his high white forehead, "you can understand 
that I am not accustomed to doing such business in 
my own person. Yet the matter was so delicate that 
I could not confide it to an agent without putting 
myself in his power. I have come incognito from 
Prague for the purpose of consulting you." 

"Then, pray consult," said Holmes, shutting his 
eyes once more. 

"The facts are briefly these: Some five years 
ago, during a lengthy visit to Warsaw, I made the 
acquaintance of the well-known adventuress, Irene 
Adler. The name is no doubt familiar to you." 

"Kindly look her up in my index, Doctor," mur- 
mured Holmes without opening his eyes. For 
many years he had adopted a system of docket- 
ing all paragraphs concerning men and things, so 
that it was difficult to name a subject or a person 
on which he could not at once furnish information. 
In this case I found her biography sandwiched in 
between that of a Hebrew rabbi and that of a staff- 
commander who had written a monograph upon 
the deep-sea fishes. 

"Let me see!" said Holmes. "Hum! Born in 
New Jersey in the year 1858. Contralto — hum! La 
Scala, hum! Prima donna Imperial Opera of War- 
saw — yes! Retired from operatic stage — ha! Living 
in London — quite so! Your Majesty, as I under- 
stand, became entangled with this young person, 
wrote her some compromising letters, and is now 
desirous of getting those letters back." 

"Precisely so. But how — " 

"Was there a secret marriage?" 

"None." 

"No legal papers or certificates?" 

"None." 

"Then I fail to follow your Majesty. If this 
young person should produce her letters for black- 
mailing or other purposes, how is she to prove 
their authenticity?" 

"There is the writing." 

"Pooh, pooh! Forgery." 

"My private note-paper." 



"Stolen." 
"My own seal." 
"Imitated." 
"My photograph." 
"Bought." 

"We were both in the photograph." 
"Oh, dear! That is very bad! Your Majesty has 
indeed committed an indiscretion." 

"I was mad — insane." 

"You have compromised yourself seriously." 
"I was only Crown Prince then. I was young. I 
am but thirty now. " 

"It must be recovered." 

"We have tried and failed." 

"Your Majesty must pay. It must be bought." 

"She will not sell." 

"Stolen, then." 

"Five attempts have been made. Twice burglars 
in my pay ransacked her house. Once we diverted 
her luggage when she travelled. Twice she has 
been waylaid. There has been no result." 

"No sign of it?" 
"Absolutely none." 

Holmes laughed. "It is quite a pretty little 
problem," said he. 

"But a very serious one to me," returned the 
King reproachfully. 

"Very, indeed. And what does she propose to 
do with the photograph?" 

"To ruin me." 

"But how?" 

"I am about to be married." 

"So I have heard." 

"To Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen, sec- 
ond daughter of the King of Scandinavia. You may 
know the strict principles of her family. She is her- 
self the very soul of delicacy. A shadow of a doubt 
as to my conduct would bring the matter to an 
end." 

"And Irene Adler?" 

"Threatens to send them the photograph. And 
she will do it. I know that she will do it. You do 
not know her, but she has a soul of steel. She has 
the face of the most beautiful of women, and the 
mind of the most resolute of men. Rather than I 
should marry another woman, there are no lengths 
to which she would not go — none." 

"You are sure that she has not sent it yet?" 

"I am sure." 

"And why?" 



126 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



"Because she has said that she would send it 
on the day when the betrothal was publicly pro- 
claimed. That will be next Monday." 

"Oh, then we have three days yet," said Holmes 
with a yawn. "That is very fortunate, as I have one 
or two matters of importance to look into just at 
present. Your Majesty will, of course, stay in Lon- 
don for the present?" 

"Certainly. You will find me at the Langham 
under the name of the Count Von Kramm." 

"Then I shall drop you a line to let you know 
how we progress." 

"Pray do so. I shall be all anxiety." 
"Then, as to money?" 
"You have carte blanche." 
"Absolutely?" 

"I tell you that I would give one of the 
provinces of my kingdom to have that photo- 
graph." 

"And for present expenses?" 



The King took a heavy chamois leather bag 
from under his cloak and laid it on the table. 

"There are three hundred pounds in gold and 
seven hundred in notes," he said. 

Holmes scribbled a receipt upon a sheet of his 
note-book and handed it to him. 

"And Mademoiselle's address?" he asked. 

"Is Briony Lodge, Serpentine Avenue, St. John's 
Wood." 

Holmes took a note of it. "One other question," 
said he. "Was the photograph a cabinet?" 

"It was." 

"Then, good-night, your Majesty, and I trust 
that we shall soon have some good news for you. 
And good-night, Watson," he added, as the wheels 
of the royal brougham rolled down the street. "If 
you will be good enough to call to-morrow after- 
noon at three o'clock I should like to chat this little 
matter over with you." 



CHAPTER II. 



At three o'clock precisely I was at Baker Street, 
but Holmes had not yet returned. The landlady 
informed me that he had left the house shortly af- 
ter eight o'clock in the morning. I sat down be- 
side the fire, however, with the intention of await- 
ing him, however long he might be. I was already 
deeply interested in his inquiry, for, though it was 
surrounded by none of the grim and strange fea- 
tures which were associated with the two crimes 
which I have already recorded, still, the nature of 
the case and the exalted station of his client gave it 
a character of its own. Indeed, apart from the na- 
ture of the investigation which my friend had on 
hand, there was something in his masterly grasp 
of a situation, and his keen, incisive reasoning, 
which made it a pleasure to me to study his sys- 
tem of work, and to follow the quick, subtle meth- 
ods by which he disentangled the most inextrica- 
ble mysteries. So accustomed was I to his invari- 
able success that the very possibility of his failing 
had ceased to enter into my head. 

It was close upon four before the door opened, 
and a drunken-looking groom, ill-kempt and side- 



whiskered, with an inflamed face and disreputable 
clothes, walked into the room. Accustomed as I 
was to my friend's amazing powers in the use of 
disguises, I had to look three times before I was 
certain that it was indeed he. With a nod he van- 
ished into the bedroom, whence he emerged in five 
minutes tweed-suited and respectable, as of old. 
Putting his hands into his pockets, he stretched out 
his legs in front of the fire and laughed heartily for 
some minutes. 

"Well, really!" he cried, and then he choked 
and laughed again until he was obliged to lie back, 
limp and helpless, in the chair. 

"What is it?" 

"It's quite too funny. I am sure you could never 
guess how I employed my morning, or what I 
ended by doing." 

"I can't imagine. I suppose that you have been 
watching the habits, and perhaps the house, of 
Miss Irene Adler." 

"Quite so; but the sequel was rather unusual. I 
will tell you, however. I left the house a little af- 
ter eight o'clock this morning in the character of a 



127 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



groom out of work. There is a wonderful sym- 
pathy and freemasonry among horsey men. Be 
one of them, and you will know all that there is 
to know. I soon found Briony Lodge. It is a bijou 
villa, with a garden at the back, but built out in 
front right up to the road, two stories. Chubb lock 
to the door. Large sitting-room on the right side, 
well furnished, with long windows almost to the 
floor, and those preposterous English window fas- 
teners which a child could open. Behind there was 
nothing remarkable, save that the passage window 
could be reached from the top of the coach-house. 
I walked round it and examined it closely from ev- 
ery point of view, but without noting anything else 
of interest. 

"I then lounged down the street and found, as 
I expected, that there was a mews in a lane which 
runs down by one wall of the garden. I lent the 
ostlers a hand in rubbing down their horses, and 
received in exchange twopence, a glass of half and 
half, two fills of shag tobacco, and as much infor- 
mation as I could desire about Miss Adler, to say 
nothing of half a dozen other people in the neigh- 
bourhood in whom I was not in the least inter- 
ested, but whose biographies I was compelled to 
listen to." 

"And what of Irene Adler?" I asked. 

"Oh, she has turned all the men's heads down 
in that part. She is the daintiest thing under a bon- 
net on this planet. So say the Serpentine-mews, to 
a man. She lives quietly, sings at concerts, drives 
out at five every day, and returns at seven sharp 
for dinner. Seldom goes out at other times, except 
when she sings. Has only one male visitor, but 
a good deal of him. He is dark, handsome, and 
dashing, never calls less than once a day, and often 
twice. He is a Mr. Godfrey Norton, of the Inner 
Temple. See the advantages of a cabman as a con- 
fidant. They had driven him home a dozen times 
from Serpentine-mews, and knew all about him. 
When I had listened to all they had to tell, I be- 
gan to walk up and down near Briony Lodge once 
more, and to think over my plan of campaign. 

"This Godfrey Norton was evidently an impor- 
tant factor in the matter. He was a lawyer. That 
sounded ominous. What was the relation between 
them, and what the object of his repeated visits? 
Was she his client, his friend, or his mistress? If the 
former, she had probably transferred the photo- 
graph to his keeping. If the latter, it was less likely. 
On the issue of this question depended whether 
I should continue my work at Briony Lodge, or 
turn my attention to the gentleman's chambers in 
the Temple. It was a delicate point, and it widened 



the field of my inquiry. I fear that I bore you with 
these details, but I have to let you see my little dif- 
ficulties, if you are to understand the situation." 

"I am following you closely," I answered. 

"I was still balancing the matter in my mind 
when a hansom cab drove up to Briony Lodge, 
and a gentleman sprang out. He was a remark- 
ably handsome man, dark, aquiline, and mous- 
tached — evidently the man of whom I had heard. 
He appeared to be in a great hurry, shouted to the 
cabman to wait, and brushed past the maid who 
opened the door with the air of a man who was 
thoroughly at home. 

"He was in the house about half an hour, and 
I could catch glimpses of him in the windows of 
the sitting-room, pacing up and down, talking ex- 
citedly, and waving his arms. Of her I could see 
nothing. Presently he emerged, looking even more 
flurried than before. As he stepped up to the cab, 
he pulled a gold watch from his pocket and looked 
at it earnestly, 'Drive like the devil,' he shouted, 
'first to Gross & Hankey's in Regent Street, and 
then to the Church of St. Monica in the Edgeware 
Road. Half a guinea if you do it in twenty min- 
utes!' 

"Away they went, and I was just wondering 
whether I should not do well to follow them when 
up the lane came a neat little landau, the coach- 
man with his coat only half-buttoned, and his tie 
under his ear, while all the tags of his harness were 
sticking out of the buckles. It hadn't pulled up be- 
fore she shot out of the hall door and into it. I only 
caught a glimpse of her at the moment, but she 
was a lovely woman, with a face that a man might 
die for. 

" 'The Church of St. Monica, John,' she cried, 
'and half a sovereign if you reach it in twenty min- 
utes.' 

"This was quite too good to lose, Watson. I 
was just balancing whether I should run for it, or 
whether I should perch behind her landau when 
a cab came through the street. The driver looked 
twice at such a shabby fare, but I jumped in before 
he could object. 'The Church of St. Monica,' said I, 
'and half a sovereign if you reach it in twenty min- 
utes.' It was twenty-five minutes to twelve, and of 
course it was clear enough what was in the wind. 

"My cabby drove fast. I don't think I ever drove 
faster, but the others were there before us. The cab 
and the landau with their steaming horses were 
in front of the door when I arrived. I paid the 
man and hurried into the church. There was not a 
soul there save the two whom I had followed and 



128 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



a surpliced clergyman, who seemed to be expostu- 
lating with them. They were all three standing in 
a knot in front of the altar. I lounged up the side 
aisle like any other idler who has dropped into a 
church. Suddenly to my surprise, the three at the 
altar faced round to me, and Godfrey Norton came 
running as hard as he could towards me. 

" 'Thank God,' he cried. 'You'll do. Come! 
Come!' 

" 'What then?' I asked. 

" 'Come, man, come, only three minutes, or it 
won't be legal.' 

"I was half-dragged up to the altar, and be- 
fore I knew where I was I found myself mumbling 
responses which were whispered in my ear, and 
vouching for things of which I knew nothing, and 
generally assisting in the secure tying up of Irene 
Adler, spinster, to Godfrey Norton, bachelor. It 
was all done in an instant, and there was the gen- 
tleman thanking me on the one side and the lady 
on the other, while the clergyman beamed on me 
in front. It was the most preposterous position in 
which I ever found myself in my life, and it was the 
thought of it that started me laughing just now. It 
seems that there had been some informality about 
their license, that the clergyman absolutely refused 
to marry them without a witness of some sort, and 
that my lucky appearance saved the bridegroom 
from having to sally out into the streets in search 
of a best man. The bride gave me a sovereign, and 
I mean to wear it on my watch-chain in memory 
of the occasion." 

"This is a very unexpected turn of affairs," said 
I; "and what then?" 

"Well, I found my plans very seriously men- 
aced. It looked as if the pair might take an imme- 
diate departure, and so necessitate very prompt 
and energetic measures on my part. At the church 
door, however, they separated, he driving back to 
the Temple, and she to her own house. T shall 
drive out in the park at five as usual,' she said as 
she left him. I heard no more. They drove away 
in different directions, and I went off to make my 
own arrangements." 

"Which are?" 

"Some cold beef and a glass of beer," he an- 
swered, ringing the bell. "I have been too busy 
to think of food, and I am likely to be busier still 
this evening. By the way, Doctor, I shall want your 
co-operation." 

"I shall be delighted." 

"You don't mind breaking the law?" 



"Not in the least." 

"Nor running a chance of arrest?" 

"Not in a good cause." 

"Oh, the cause is excellent!" 

"Then I am your man." 

"I was sure that I might rely on you." 

"But what is it you wish?" 

"When Mrs. Turner has brought in the tray I 
will make it clear to you. Now," he said as he 
turned hungrily on the simple fare that our land- 
lady had provided, "I must discuss it while I eat, 
for I have not much time. It is nearly five now. In 
two hours we must be on the scene of action. Miss 
Irene, or Madame, rather, returns from her drive at 
seven. We must be at Briony Lodge to meet her." 

"And what then?" 

"You must leave that to me. I have already ar- 
ranged what is to occur. There is only one point on 
which I must insist. You must not interfere, come 
what may. You understand?" 

"I am to be neutral?" 

"To do nothing whatever. There will probably 
be some small unpleasantness. Do not join in it. 
It will end in my being conveyed into the house. 
Four or five minutes afterwards the sitting-room 
window will open. You are to station yourself 
close to that open window. " 

"Yes." 

"You are to watch me, for I will be visible to 
you." 

"Yes." 

"And when I raise my hand — so — you will 
throw into the room what I give you to throw, and 
will, at the same time, raise the cry of fire. You 
quite follow me?" 

"Entirely." 

"It is nothing very formidable," he said, tak- 
ing a long cigar-shaped roll from his pocket. "It is 
an ordinary plumber's smoke-rocket, fitted with a 
cap at either end to make it self-lighting. Your task 
is confined to that. When you raise your cry of fire, 
it will be taken up by quite a number of people. 
You may then walk to the end of the street, and I 
will rejoin you in ten minutes. I hope that I have 
made myself clear?" 

"I am to remain neutral, to get near the win- 
dow, to watch you, and at the signal to throw in 
this object, then to raise the cry of fire, and to wait 
you at the corner of the street." 

"Precisely." 

"Then you may entirely rely on me." 

"That is excellent. I think, perhaps, it is almost 
time that I prepare for the new role I have to play" 



129 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



He disappeared into his bedroom and returned 
in a few minutes in the character of an amiable and 
simple-minded Nonconformist clergyman. His 
broad black hat, his baggy trousers, his white tie, 
his sympathetic smile, and general look of peer- 
ing and benevolent curiosity were such as Mr. John 
Hare alone could have equalled. It was not merely 
that Holmes changed his costume. His expression, 
his manner, his very soul seemed to vary with ev- 
ery fresh part that he assumed. The stage lost a 
fine actor, even as science lost an acute reasoner, 
when he became a specialist in crime. 

It was a quarter past six when we left Baker 
Street, and it still wanted ten minutes to the hour 
when we found ourselves in Serpentine Avenue. 
It was already dusk, and the lamps were just be- 
ing lighted as we paced up and down in front of 
Briony Lodge, waiting for the coming of its occu- 
pant. The house was just such as I had pictured 
it from Sherlock Holmes' succinct description, but 
the locality appeared to be less private than I ex- 
pected. On the contrary, for a small street in a 
quiet neighbourhood, it was remarkably animated. 
There was a group of shabbily dressed men smok- 
ing and laughing in a corner, a scissors-grinder 
with his wheel, two guardsmen who were flirting 
with a nurse-girl, and several well-dressed young 
men who were lounging up and down with cigars 
in their mouths. 

"You see," remarked Holmes, as we paced to 
and fro in front of the house, "this marriage rather 
simplifies matters. The photograph becomes a 
double-edged weapon now. The chances are that 
she would be as averse to its being seen by Mr. 
Godfrey Norton, as our client is to its coming to 
the eyes of his princess. Now the question is, 
Where are we to find the photograph?" 

"Where, indeed?" 

"It is most unlikely that she carries it about 
with her. It is cabinet size. Too large for easy 
concealment about a woman's dress. She knows 
that the King is capable of having her waylaid and 
searched. Two attempts of the sort have already 
been made. We may take it, then, that she does 
not carry it about with her." 

"Where, then?" 

"Her banker or her lawyer. There is that dou- 
ble possibility. But I am inclined to think neither. 
Women are naturally secretive, and they like to do 
their own secreting. Why should she hand it over 
to anyone else? She could trust her own guardian- 
ship, but she could not tell what indirect or po- 
litical influence might be brought to bear upon a 
business man. Besides, remember that she had 



resolved to use it within a few days. It must be 
where she can lay her hands upon it. It must be in 
her own house." 

"But it has twice been burgled." 

"Pshaw! They did not know how to look." 

"But how will you look?" 

"I will not look." 

"What then?" 

"I will get her to show me." 

"But she will refuse." 

"She will not be able to. But I hear the rumble 
of wheels. It is her carriage. Now carry out my 
orders to the letter." 

As he spoke the gleam of the side-lights of a 
carriage came round the curve of the avenue. It 
was a smart little landau which rattled up to the 
door of Briony Lodge. As it pulled up, one of the 
loafing men at the corner dashed forward to open 
the door in the hope of earning a copper, but was 
elbowed away by another loafer, who had rushed 
up with the same intention. A fierce quarrel broke 
out, which was increased by the two guardsmen, 
who took sides with one of the loungers, and by 
the scissors-grinder, who was equally hot upon the 
other side. A blow was struck, and in an instant 
the lady, who had stepped from her carriage, was 
the centre of a little knot of flushed and struggling 
men, who struck savagely at each other with their 
fists and sticks. Holmes dashed into the crowd 
to protect the lady; but just as he reached her he 
gave a cry and dropped to the ground, with the 
blood running freely down his face. At his fall 
the guardsmen took to their heels in one direction 
and the loungers in the other, while a number of 
better-dressed people, who had watched the scuf- 
fle without taking part in it, crowded in to help 
the lady and to attend to the injured man. Irene 
Adler, as I will still call her, had hurried up the 
steps; but she stood at the top with her superb fig- 
ure outlined against the lights of the hall, looking 
back into the street. 

"Is the poor gentleman much hurt?" she asked. 

"He is dead," cried several voices. 

"No, no, there's life in him!" shouted another. 
"But he'll be gone before you can get him to hos- 
pital." 

"He's a brave fellow," said a woman. "They 
would have had the lady's purse and watch if it 
hadn't been for him. They were a gang, and a 
rough one, too. Ah, he's breathing now." 

"He can't lie in the street. May we bring him 
in, marm?" 

"Surely. Bring him into the sitting-room. There 
is a comfortable sofa. This way, please!" 



130 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



Slowly and solemnly he was borne into Briony 
Lodge and laid out in the principal room, while I 
still observed the proceedings from my post by the 
window. The lamps had been lit, but the blinds 
had not been drawn, so that I could see Holmes as 
he lay upon the couch. I do not know whether he 
was seized with compunction at that moment for 
the part he was playing, but I know that I never felt 
more heartily ashamed of myself in my life than 
when I saw the beautiful creature against whom 
I was conspiring, or the grace and kindliness with 
which she waited upon the injured man. And yet it 
would be the blackest treachery to Holmes to draw 
back now from the part which he had intrusted to 
me. I hardened my heart, and took the smoke- 
rocket from under my ulster. After all, I thought, 
we are not injuring her. We are but preventing her 
from injuring another. 

Holmes had sat up upon the couch, and I saw 
him motion like a man who is in need of air. A 
maid rushed across and threw open the window. 
At the same instant I saw him raise his hand and 
at the signal I tossed my rocket into the room with 
a cry of "Fire!" The word was no sooner out of my 
mouth than the whole crowd of spectators, well 
dressed and ill — gentlemen, ostlers, and servant- 
maids — joined in a general shriek of "Fire!" Thick 
clouds of smoke curled through the room and 
out at the open window. I caught a glimpse of 
rushing figures, and a moment later the voice of 
Holmes from within assuring them that it was a 
false alarm. Slipping through the shouting crowd 
I made my way to the corner of the street, and in 
ten minutes was rejoiced to find my friend's arm in 
mine, and to get away from the scene of uproar. He 
walked swiftly and in silence for some few min- 
utes until we had turned down one of the quiet 
streets which lead towards the Edgeware Road. 

"You did it very nicely, Doctor," he remarked. 
"Nothing could have been better. It is all right." 

"You have the photograph?" 

"I know where it is." 

"And how did you find out?" 

"She showed me, as I told you she would." 

"I am still in the dark." 

"I do not wish to make a mystery," said he, 
laughing. "The matter was perfectly simple. You, 
of course, saw that everyone in the street was 
an accomplice. They were all engaged for the 
evening." 

"I guessed as much." 

"Then, when the row broke out, I had a little 
moist red paint in the palm of my hand. I rushed 



forward, fell down, clapped my hand to my face, 
and became a piteous spectacle. It is an old trick." 

"That also I could fathom." 

"Then they carried me in. She was bound to 
have me in. What else could she do? And into 
her sitting-room, which was the very room which 
I suspected. It lay between that and her bedroom, 
and I was determined to see which. They laid me 
on a couch, I motioned for air, they were com- 
pelled to open the window, and you had your 
chance." 

"How did that help you?" 

"It was all-important. When a woman thinks 
that her house is on fire, her instinct is at once to 
rush to the thing which she values most. It is a per- 
fectly overpowering impulse, and I have more than 
once taken advantage of it. In the case of the Dar- 
lington substitution scandal it was of use to me, 
and also in the Arnsworth Castle business. A mar- 
ried woman grabs at her baby; an unmarried one 
reaches for her jewel-box. Now it was clear to me 
that our lady of to-day had nothing in the house 
more precious to her than what we are in quest of. 
She would rush to secure it. The alarm of fire was 
admirably done. The smoke and shouting were 
enough to shake nerves of steel. She responded 
beautifully. The photograph is in a recess behind 
a sliding panel just above the right bell-pull. She 
was there in an instant, and I caught a glimpse of 
it as she half-drew it out. When I cried out that it 
was a false alarm, she replaced it, glanced at the 
rocket, rushed from the room, and I have not seen 
her since. I rose, and, making my excuses, escaped 
from the house. I hesitated whether to attempt to 
secure the photograph at once; but the coachman 
had come in, and as he was watching me narrowly 
it seemed safer to wait. A little over-precipitance 
may ruin all." 

"And now?" I asked. 

"Our quest is practically finished. I shall call 
with the King to-morrow, and with you, if you 
care to come with us. We will be shown into the 
sitting-room to wait for the lady, but it is probable 
that when she comes she may find neither us nor 
the photograph. It might be a satisfaction to his 
Majesty to regain it with his own hands." 

"And when will you call?" 

"At eight in the morning. She will not be up, so 
that we shall have a clear field. Besides, we must 
be prompt, for this marriage may mean a complete 
change in her life and habits. I must wire to the 
King without delay." 



131 



A Scandal in Bohemia 



We had reached Baker Street and had stopped 
at the door. He was searching his pockets for the 
key when someone passing said: 

"Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes." 
There were several people on the pavement at 



the time, but the greeting appeared to come from 
a slim youth in an ulster who had hurried by. 

"I've heard that voice before," said Holmes, 
staring down the dimly lit street. "Now, I wonder 
who the deuce that could have been." 



CHAPTER III. 



I slept at Baker Street that night, and we were 
engaged upon our toast and coffee in the morning 
when the King of Bohemia rushed into the room. 

"You have really got it!" he cried, grasping 
Sherlock Holmes by either shoulder and looking 
eagerly into his face. 

"Not yet." 

"But you have hopes?" 

"I have hopes." 

"Then, come. I am all impatience to be gone." 

"We must have a cab." 

"No, my brougham is waiting." 

"Then that will simplify matters." We de- 
scended and started off once more for Briony 
Lodge. 

"Irene Adler is married," remarked Holmes. 

"Married! When?" 

"Yesterday." 

"But to whom?" 

"To an English lawyer named Norton." 

"But she could not love him. " 

"I am in hopes that she does." 

"And why in hopes?" 

"Because it would spare your Majesty all fear of 
future annoyance. If the lady loves her husband, 
she does not love your Majesty. If she does not love 
your Majesty, there is no reason why she should 
interfere with your Majesty's plan." 

"It is true. And yet — Well! I wish she had been 
of my own station! What a queen she would have 
made!" He relapsed into a moody silence, which 
was not broken until we drew up in Serpentine 
Avenue. 

The door of Briony Lodge was open, and an el- 
derly woman stood upon the steps. She watched 



us with a sardonic eye as we stepped from the 
brougham. 

"Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I believe?" said she. 

"I am Mr. Holmes," answered my companion, 
looking at her with a questioning and rather star- 
tled gaze. 

"Indeed! My mistress told me that you were 
likely to call. She left this morning with her hus- 
band by the 5.15 train from Charing Cross for the 
Continent." 

"What!" Sherlock Holmes staggered back, 
white with chagrin and surprise. "Do you mean 
that she has left England?" 

"Never to return." 

"And the papers?" asked the King hoarsely. 
"All is lost." 

"We shall see." He pushed past the servant 
and rushed into the drawing-room, followed by 
the King and myself. The furniture was scattered 
about in every direction, with dismantled shelves 
and open drawers, as if the lady had hurriedly ran- 
sacked them before her flight. Holmes rushed at 
the bell-pull, tore back a small sliding shutter, and, 
plunging in his hand, pulled out a photograph and 
a letter. The photograph was of Irene Adler her- 
self in evening dress, the letter was superscribed to 
"Sherlock Holmes, Esq. To be left till called for." 
My friend tore it open and we all three read it to- 
gether. It was dated at midnight of the preceding 
night and ran in this way: 



132 



"My dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes: 

"You really did it very well. You 
took me in completely. Until after the 
alarm of fire, I had not a suspicion. 
But then, when I found how I had be- 
trayed myself, I began to think. I had 
been warned against you months ago. 
I had been told that if the King em- 
ployed an agent it would certainly be 
you. And your address had been given 
me. Yet, with all this, you made me re- 
veal what you wanted to know. Even 
after I became suspicious, I found it 
hard to think evil of such a dear, kind 
old clergyman. But, you know, I have 
been trained as an actress myself. Male 
costume is nothing new to me. I often 
take advantage of the freedom which 
it gives. I sent John, the coachman, 
to watch you, ran up stairs, got into 
my walking-clothes, as I call them, and 
came down just as you departed. 

"Well, I followed you to your door, 
and so made sure that I was really an 
object of interest to the celebrated Mr. 
Sherlock Holmes. Then I, rather im- 
prudently, wished you good-night, and 
started for the Temple to see my hus- 
band. 

"We both thought the best resource 
was flight, when pursued by so 
formidable an antagonist; so you will 
find the nest empty when you call to- 
morrow. As to the photograph, your 
client may rest in peace. I love and 
am loved by a better man than he. 
The King may do what he will with- 
out hindrance from one whom he has 
cruelly wronged. I keep it only to 
safeguard myself, and to preserve a 
weapon which will always secure me 
from any steps which he might take in 
the future. I leave a photograph which 
he might care to possess; and I remain, 
dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes, 

"Very truly yours, 



"Irene Norton, nee Adler." 

"What a woman — oh, what a woman!" cried 
the King of Bohemia, when we had all three read 
this epistle. "Did I not tell you how quick and 
resolute she was? Would she not have made an 
admirable queen? Is it not a pity that she was not 
on my level?" 

"From what I have seen of the lady she seems 
indeed to be on a very different level to your 
Majesty," said Holmes coldly. "I am sorry that I 
have not been able to bring your Majesty's busi- 
ness to a more successful conclusion." 

"On the contrary, my dear sir," cried the King; 
"nothing could be more successful. I know that 
her word is inviolate. The photograph is now as 
safe as if it were in the fire." 

"I am glad to hear your Majesty say so." 

"I am immensely indebted to you. Pray tell me 
in what way I can reward you. This ring — " He 
slipped an emerald snake ring from his finger and 
held it out upon the palm of his hand. 

"Your Majesty has something which I should 
value even more highly," said Holmes. 

"You have but to name it." 

"This photograph!" 

The King stared at him in amazement. 

"Irene's photograph!" he cried. "Certainly, if 
you wish it." 

"I thank your Majesty. Then there is no more 
to be done in the matter. I have the honour to wish 
you a very good-morning." He bowed, and, turn- 
ing away without observing the hand which the 
King had stretched out to him, he set off in my 
company for his chambers. 

And that was how a great scandal threatened 
to affect the kingdom of Bohemia, and how the 
best plans of Mr. Sherlock Holmes were beaten by 
a woman's wit. He used to make merry over the 
cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do 
it of late. And when he speaks of Irene Adler, or 
when he refers to her photograph, it is always un- 
der the honourable title of the woman. 



The Red-Headed League 



The Red-Headed League 




had called upon my friend, Mr. Sher- 
lock Holmes, one day in the autumn of 
last year and found him in deep conver- 
sation with a very stout, florid-faced, el- 
derly gentleman with fiery red hair. With an apol- 
ogy for my intrusion, I was about to withdraw 
when Holmes pulled me abruptly into the room 
and closed the door behind me. 

"You could not possibly have come at a better 
time, my dear Watson," he said cordially. 

"I was afraid that you were engaged." 

"So I am. Very much so." 

"Then I can wait in the next room." 

"Not at all. This gentleman, Mr. Wilson, has 
been my partner and helper in many of my most 
successful cases, and I have no doubt that he will 
be of the utmost use to me in yours also." 

The stout gentleman half rose from his chair 
and gave a bob of greeting, with a quick little ques- 
tioning glance from his small fat-encircled eyes. 

"Try the settee," said Holmes, relapsing into 
his armchair and putting his fingertips together, 
as was his custom when in judicial moods. "I 
know, my dear Watson, that you share my love 
of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions 
and humdrum routine of everyday life. You have 
shown your relish for it by the enthusiasm which 
has prompted you to chronicle, and, if you will 
excuse my saying so, somewhat to embellish so 
many of my own little adventures." 

"Your cases have indeed been of the greatest 
interest to me," I observed. 

"You will remember that I remarked the other 
day, just before we went into the very simple prob- 
lem presented by Miss Mary Sutherland, that for 
strange effects and extraordinary combinations we 
must go to life itself, which is always far more dar- 
ing than any effort of the imagination." 

"A proposition which I took the liberty of 
doubting." 

"You did, Doctor, but none the less you must 
come round to my view, for otherwise I shall keep 
on piling fact upon fact on you until your reason 
breaks down under them and acknowledges me 
to be right. Now, Mr. Jabez Wilson here has been 
good enough to call upon me this morning, and to 
begin a narrative which promises to be one of the 
most singular which I have listened to for some 
time. You have heard me remark that the strangest 
and most unique things are very often connected 
not with the larger but with the smaller crimes, 
and occasionally, indeed, where there is room for 



doubt whether any positive crime has been com- 
mitted. As far as I have heard it is impossible for 
me to say whether the present case is an instance 
of crime or not, but the course of events is cer- 
tainly among the most singular that I have ever 
listened to. Perhaps, Mr. Wilson, you would have 
the great kindness to recommence your narrative. I 
ask you not merely because my friend Dr. Watson 
has not heard the opening part but also because 
the peculiar nature of the story makes me anxious 
to have every possible detail from your lips. As a 
rule, when I have heard some slight indication of 
the course of events, I am able to guide myself by 
the thousands of other similar cases which occur 
to my memory. In the present instance I am forced 
to admit that the facts are, to the best of my belief, 
unique." 

The portly client puffed out his chest with an 
appearance of some little pride and pulled a dirty 
and wrinkled newspaper from the inside pocket of 
his greatcoat. As he glanced down the advertise- 
ment column, with his head thrust forward and 
the paper flattened out upon his knee, I took a 
good look at the man and endeavoured, after the 
fashion of my companion, to read the indications 
which might be presented by his dress or appear- 
ance. 

I did not gain very much, however, by my in- 
spection. Our visitor bore every mark of being 
an average commonplace British tradesman, obese, 
pompous, and slow. He wore rather baggy grey 
shepherd's check trousers, a not over-clean black 
frock-coat, unbuttoned in the front, and a drab 
waistcoat with a heavy brassy Albert chain, and 
a square pierced bit of metal dangling down as an 
ornament. A frayed top-hat and a faded brown 
overcoat with a wrinkled velvet collar lay upon 
a chair beside him. Altogether, look as I would, 
there was nothing remarkable about the man save 
his blazing red head, and the expression of ex- 
treme chagrin and discontent upon his features. 

Sherlock Holmes' quick eye took in my occu- 
pation, and he shook his head with a smile as he 
noticed my questioning glances. "Beyond the ob- 
vious facts that he has at some time done manual 
labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, 
that he has been in China, and that he has done 
a considerable amount of writing lately, I can de- 
duce nothing else." 

Mr. Jabez Wilson started up in his chair, with 
his forefinger upon the paper, but his eyes upon 
my companion. 

"How, in the name of good-fortune, did you 
know all that, Mr. Holmes?" he asked. "How did 



137 



The Red-Headed League 



you know, for example, that I did manual labour. 
It's as true as gospel, for I began as a ship's car- 
penter." 

"Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is 
quite a size larger than your left. You have worked 
with it, and the muscles are more developed." 

"Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?" 

"I won't insult your intelligence by telling you 
how I read that, especially as, rather against the 
strict rules of your order, you use an arc-and- 
compass breastpin." 

"Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing?" 

"What else can be indicated by that right cuff 
so very shiny for five inches, and the left one with 
the smooth patch near the elbow where you rest it 
upon the desk?" 

"Well, but China?" 

"The fish that you have tattooed immediately 
above your right wrist could only have been done 
in China. I have made a small study of tattoo 
marks and have even contributed to the literature 
of the subject. That trick of staining the fishes' 
scales of a delicate pink is quite peculiar to China. 
When, in addition, I see a Chinese coin hanging 
from your watch-chain, the matter becomes even 
more simple." 

Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. "Well, I 
never!" said he. "I thought at first that you had 
done something clever, but I see that there was 
nothing in it, after all." 

"I begin to think, Watson," said Holmes, "that 
I make a mistake in explaining. 'Omne ignotum pro 
magnifico,' you know, and my poor little reputa- 
tion, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so 
candid. Can you not find the advertisement, Mr. 
Wilson?" 

"Yes, I have got it now," he answered with his 
thick red finger planted halfway down the column. 
"Here it is. This is what began it all. You just read 
it for yourself, sir." 

I took the paper from him and read as follows: 

"To the Red-headed League: On ac- 
count of the bequest of the late Ezekiah 
Hopkins, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, 
U. S. A., there is now another va- 
cancy open which entitles a member 
of the League to a salary of £4 a week 
for purely nominal services. All red- 
headed men who are sound in body 
and mind and above the age of twenty- 
one years, are eligible. Apply in person 



on Monday, at eleven o'clock, to Dun- 
can Ross, at the offices of the League, 7 
Pope's Court, Fleet Street." 

"What on earth does this mean?" I ejaculated 
after I had twice read over the extraordinary an- 
nouncement. 

Holmes chuckled and wriggled in his chair, as 
was his habit when in high spirits. "It is a lit- 
tle off the beaten track, isn't it?" said he. "And 
now, Mr. Wilson, off you go at scratch and tell us 
all about yourself, your household, and the effect 
which this advertisement had upon your fortunes. 
You will first make a note, Doctor, of the paper and 
the date." 

"It is The Morning Chronicle of April 27, 1890. 
Just two months ago." 

"Very good. Now, Mr. Wilson?" 

"Well, it is just as I have been telling you, Mr. 
Sherlock Holmes," said Jabez Wilson, mopping his 
forehead; "I have a small pawnbroker 's business at 
Coburg Square, near the City. It's not a very large 
affair, and of late years it has not done more than 
just give me a living. I used to be able to keep two 
assistants, but now I only keep one; and I would 
have a job to pay him but that he is willing to come 
for half wages so as to learn the business." 

"What is the name of this obliging youth?" 
asked Sherlock Holmes. 

"His name is Vincent Spaulding, and he's not 
such a youth, either. It's hard to say his age. I 
should not wish a smarter assistant, Mr. Holmes; 
and I know very well that he could better himself 
and earn twice what I am able to give him. But, 
after all, if he is satisfied, why should I put ideas 
in his head?" 

"Why, indeed? You seem most fortunate in 
having an employee who comes under the full 
market price. It is not a common experience 
among employers in this age. I don't know that 
your assistant is not as remarkable as your adver- 
tisement. " 

"Oh, he has his faults, too," said Mr. Wilson. 
"Never was such a fellow for photography. Snap- 
ping away with a camera when he ought to be im- 
proving his mind, and then diving down into the 
cellar like a rabbit into its hole to develop his pic- 
tures. That is his main fault, but on the whole he's 
a good worker. There's no vice in him." 

"He is still with you, I presume?" 

"Yes, sir. He and a girl of fourteen, who 
does a bit of simple cooking and keeps the place 
clean — that's all I have in the house, for I am a 
widower and never had any family. We live very 
quietly, sir, the three of us; and we keep a roof 



138 



The Red-Headed League 



over our heads and pay our debts, if we do noth- 
ing more. 

"The first thing that put us out was that adver- 
tisement. Spaulding, he came down into the office 
just this day eight weeks, with this very paper in 
his hand, and he says: 

" T wish to the Lord, Mr. Wilson, that I was a 
red-headed man.' 

" 'Why that?' I asks. 

" 'Why,' says he, 'here's another vacancy on the 
League of the Red-headed Men. It's worth quite 
a little fortune to any man who gets it, and I un- 
derstand that there are more vacancies than there 
are men, so that the trustees are at their wits' end 
what to do with the money. If my hair would only 
change colour, here's a nice little crib all ready for 
me to step into.' 

" 'Why, what is it, then?' I asked. You see, Mr. 
Holmes, I am a very stay-at-home man, and as my 
business came to me instead of my having to go to 
it, I was often weeks on end without putting my 
foot over the door-mat. In that way I didn't know 
much of what was going on outside, and I was 
always glad of a bit of news. 

" 'Have you never heard of the League of the 
Red-headed Men?' he asked with his eyes open. 

" 'Never.' 

" 'Why, I wonder at that, for you are eligible 
yourself for one of the vacancies.' 

" 'And what are they worth?' I asked. 

" 'Oh, merely a couple of hundred a year, but 
the work is slight, and it need not interfere very 
much with one's other occupations.' 

"Well, you can easily think that that made me 
prick up my ears, for the business has not been 
over-good for some years, and an extra couple of 
hundred would have been very handy. 

" 'Tell me all about it,' said I. 

" 'Well,' said he, showing me the advertise- 
ment, 'you can see for yourself that the League 
has a vacancy, and there is the address where you 
should apply for particulars. As far as I can make 
out, the League was founded by an American mil- 
lionaire, Ezekiah Hopkins, who was very peculiar 
in his ways. He was himself red-headed, and he 
had a great sympathy for all red-headed men; so 
when he died it was found that he had left his 
enormous fortune in the hands of trustees, with 
instructions to apply the interest to the providing 
of easy berths to men whose hair is of that colour. 
From all I hear it is splendid pay and very little to 
do.' 



" 'But,' said I, 'there would be millions of red- 
headed men who would apply' 

" 'Not so many as you might think,' he an- 
swered. 'You see it is really confined to London- 
ers, and to grown men. This American had started 
from London when he was young, and he wanted 
to do the old town a good turn. Then, again, I have 
heard it is no use your applying if your hair is light 
red, or dark red, or anything but real bright, blaz- 
ing, fiery red. Now, if you cared to apply, Mr. Wil- 
son, you would just walk in; but perhaps it would 
hardly be worth your while to put yourself out of 
the way for the sake of a few hundred pounds.' 

"Now, it is a fact, gentlemen, as you may see 
for yourselves, that my hair is of a very full and 
rich tint, so that it seemed to me that if there was 
to be any competition in the matter I stood as good 
a chance as any man that I had ever met. Vincent 
Spaulding seemed to know so much about it that 
I thought he might prove useful, so I just ordered 
him to put up the shutters for the day and to come 
right away with me. He was very willing to have a 
holiday, so we shut the business up and started off 
for the address that was given us in the advertise- 
ment. 

"I never hope to see such a sight as that again, 
Mr. Holmes. From north, south, east, and west 
every man who had a shade of red in his hair 
had tramped into the city to answer the advertise- 
ment. Fleet Street was choked with red-headed 
folk, and Pope's Court looked like a coster's or- 
ange barrow. I should not have thought there were 
so many in the whole country as were brought to- 
gether by that single advertisement. Every shade 
of colour they were — straw, lemon, orange, brick, 
Irish-setter, liver, clay; but, as Spaulding said, there 
were not many who had the real vivid flame- 
coloured tint. When I saw how many were wait- 
ing, I would have given it up in despair; but 
Spaulding would not hear of it. How he did it 
I could not imagine, but he pushed and pulled 
and butted until he got me through the crowd, and 
right up to the steps which led to the office. There 
was a double stream upon the stair, some going 
up in hope, and some coming back dejected; but 
we wedged in as well as we could and soon found 
ourselves in the office." 

"Your experience has been a most entertaining 
one," remarked Holmes as his client paused and 
refreshed his memory with a huge pinch of snuff. 
"Pray continue your very interesting statement." 

"There was nothing in the office but a couple of 
wooden chairs and a deal table, behind which sat a 
small man with a head that was even redder than 



139 



The Red-Headed League 



mine. He said a few words to each candidate as 
he came up, and then he always managed to find 
some fault in them which would disqualify them. 
Getting a vacancy did not seem to be such a very 
easy matter, after all. However, when our turn 
came the little man was much more favourable to 
me than to any of the others, and he closed the 
door as we entered, so that he might have a pri- 
vate word with us. 

" 'This is Mr. Jabez Wilson,' said my assistant, 
'and he is willing to fill a vacancy in the League.' 

" 'And he is admirably suited for it,' the other 
answered. 'He has every requirement. I cannot re- 
call when I have seen anything so fine.' He took a 
step backward, cocked his head on one side, and 
gazed at my hair until I felt quite bashful. Then 
suddenly he plunged forward, wrung my hand, 
and congratulated me warmly on my success. 

" 'It would be injustice to hesitate,' said he. 
'You will, however, I am sure, excuse me for taking 
an obvious precaution.' With that he seized my 
hair in both his hands, and tugged until I yelled 
with the pain. 'There is water in your eyes,' said 
he as he released me. T perceive that all is as it 
should be. But we have to be careful, for we have 
twice been deceived by wigs and once by paint. I 
could tell you tales of cobbler 's wax which would 
disgust you with human nature.' He stepped over 
to the window and shouted through it at the top 
of his voice that the vacancy was filled. A groan of 
disappointment came up from below, and the folk 
all trooped away in different directions until there 
was not a red-head to be seen except my own and 
that of the manager. 

" 'My name,' said he, 'is Mr. Duncan Ross, and 
I am myself one of the pensioners upon the fund 
left by our noble benefactor. Are you a married 
man, Mr. Wilson? Have you a family?' 

"I answered that I had not. 

"His face fell immediately. 

" 'Dear me!' he said gravely, 'that is very se- 
rious indeed! I am sorry to hear you say that. 
The fund was, of course, for the propagation and 
spread of the red-heads as well as for their main- 
tenance. It is exceedingly unfortunate that you 
should be a bachelor.' 

"My face lengthened at this, Mr. Holmes, for I 
thought that I was not to have the vacancy after 
all; but after thinking it over for a few minutes he 
said that it would be all right. 

" 'In the case of another,' said he, 'the objec- 
tion might be fatal, but we must stretch a point in 
favour of a man with such a head of hair as yours. 



When shall you be able to enter upon your new 
duties?' 

" 'Well, it is a little awkward, for I have a busi- 
ness already,' said I. 

" 'Oh, never mind about that, Mr. Wilson!' said 
Vincent Spaulding. T should be able to look after 
that for you.' 

" 'What would be the hours?' I asked. 

" 'Ten to two.' 

"Now a pawnbroker's business is mostly done 
of an evening, Mr. Holmes, especially Thursday 
and Friday evening, which is just before pay-day; 
so it would suit me very well to earn a little in the 
mornings. Besides, I knew that my assistant was a 
good man, and that he would see to anything that 
turned up. 

" 'That would suit me very well,' said I. 'And 
the pay?' 

" 'Is £4 a week.' 

" 'And the work?' 

" 'Is purely nominal.' 

" 'What do you call purely nominal?' 

" 'Well, you have to be in the office, or at least 
in the building, the whole time. If you leave, you 
forfeit your whole position forever. The will is very 
clear upon that point. You don't comply with the 
conditions if you budge from the office during that 
time.' 

" 'It's only four hours a day, and I should not 
think of leaving,' said I. 

" 'No excuse will avail,' said Mr. Duncan Ross; 
'neither sickness nor business nor anything else. 
There you must stay, or you lose your billet.' 

" 'And the work?' 

" 'Is to copy out the "Encyclopaedia Britan- 
nica." There is the first volume of it in that press. 
You must find your own ink, pens, and blotting- 
paper, but we provide this table and chair. Will 
you be ready to-morrow?' 

" 'Certainly,' I answered. 

" 'Then, good-bye, Mr. Jabez Wilson, and let me 
congratulate you once more on the important po- 
sition which you have been fortunate enough to 
gain.' He bowed me out of the room and I went 
home with my assistant, hardly knowing what to 
say or do, I was so pleased at my own good for- 
tune. 

"Well, I thought over the matter all day, and 
by evening I was in low spirits again; for I had 
quite persuaded myself that the whole affair must 
be some great hoax or fraud, though what its ob- 
ject might be I could not imagine. It seemed al- 
together past belief that anyone could make such 



140 



The Red-Headed League 



a will, or that they would pay such a sum for do- 
ing anything so simple as copying out the 'Ency- 
clopaedia Britannica.' Vincent Spaulding did what 
he could to cheer me up, but by bedtime I had rea- 
soned myself out of the whole thing. However, in 
the morning I determined to have a look at it any- 
how, so I bought a penny bottle of ink, and with 
a quill-pen, and seven sheets of foolscap paper, I 
started off for Pope's Court. 

"Well, to my surprise and delight, everything 
was as right as possible. The table was set out 
ready for me, and Mr. Duncan Ross was there to 
see that I got fairly to work. He started me off 
upon the letter A, and then he left me; but he 
would drop in from time to time to see that all was 
right with me. At two o'clock he bade me good- 
day, complimented me upon the amount that I had 
written, and locked the door of the office after me. 

"This went on day after day, Mr. Holmes, and 
on Saturday the manager came in and planked 
down four golden sovereigns for my week's work. 
It was the same next week, and the same the week 
after. Every morning I was there at ten, and ev- 
ery afternoon I left at two. By degrees Mr. Duncan 
Ross took to coming in only once of a morning, 
and then, after a time, he did not come in at all. 
Still, of course, I never dared to leave the room for 
an instant, for I was not sure when he might come, 
and the billet was such a good one, and suited me 
so well, that I would not risk the loss of it. 

"Eight weeks passed away like this, and I had 
written about Abbots and Archery and Armour 
and Architecture and Attica, and hoped with dili- 
gence that I might get on to the B's before very 
long. It cost me something in foolscap, and I 
had pretty nearly filled a shelf with my writings. 
And then suddenly the whole business came to an 
end." 

"To an end?" 

"Yes, sir. And no later than this morning. I 
went to my work as usual at ten o'clock, but the 
door was shut and locked, with a little square of 
cardboard hammered on to the middle of the panel 
with a tack. Here it is, and you can read for your- 
self." 

He held up a piece of white cardboard about 
the size of a sheet of note-paper. It read in this 
fashion: 

The Red-headed League 

is 

Dissolved 

October 9, 1890. 



Sherlock Holmes and I surveyed this curt an- 
nouncement and the rueful face behind it, until the 
comical side of the affair so completely overtopped 
every other consideration that we both burst out 
into a roar of laughter. 

"I cannot see that there is anything very 
funny," cried our client, flushing up to the roots 
of his flaming head. "If you can do nothing better 
than laugh at me, I can go elsewhere." 

"No, no," cried Holmes, shoving him back into 
the chair from which he had half risen. "I really 
wouldn't miss your case for the world. It is most 
refreshingly unusual. But there is, if you will ex- 
cuse my saying so, something just a little funny 
about it. Pray what steps did you take when you 
found the card upon the door?" 

"I was staggered, sir. I did not know what to 
do. Then I called at the offices round, but none 
of them seemed to know anything about it. Fi- 
nally, I went to the landlord, who is an accountant 
living on the ground-floor, and I asked him if he 
could tell me what had become of the Red-headed 
League. He said that he had never heard of any 
such body. Then I asked him who Mr. Duncan 
Ross was. He answered that the name was new to 
him. 

" 'Well,' said I, 'the gentleman at No. 4.' 

" 'What, the red-headed man?' 

" 'Yes.' 

" 'Oh,' said he, 'his name was William Mor- 
ris. He was a solicitor and was using my room as 
a temporary convenience until his new premises 
were ready. He moved out yesterday' 

" 'Where could I find him?' 

" 'Oh, at his new offices. He did tell me the ad- 
dress. Yes, 17 King Edward Street, near St. Paul's.' 

"I started off, Mr. Holmes, but when I got 
to that address it was a manufactory of artificial 
knee-caps, and no one in it had ever heard of ei- 
ther Mr. William Morris or Mr. Duncan Ross." 

"And what did you do then?" asked Holmes. 

"I went home to Saxe-Coburg Square, and I 
took the advice of my assistant. But he could not 
help me in any way. He could only say that if I 
waited I should hear by post. But that was not 
quite good enough, Mr. Holmes. I did not wish to 
lose such a place without a struggle, so, as I had 
heard that you were good enough to give advice 
to poor folk who were in need of it, I came right 
away to you." 

"And you did very wisely," said Holmes. 
"Your case is an exceedingly remarkable one, and I 



141 



The Red-Headed League 



shall be happy to look into it. From what you have 
told me I think that it is possible that graver issues 
hang from it than might at first sight appear." 

"Grave enough!" said Mr. Jabez Wilson. "Why, 
I have lost four pound a week." 

"As far as you are personally concerned," re- 
marked Holmes, "I do not see that you have any 
grievance against this extraordinary league. On 
the contrary, you are, as I understand, richer by 
some £30, to say nothing of the minute knowledge 
which you have gained on every subject which 
comes under the letter A. You have lost nothing 
by them." 

"No, sir. But I want to find out about them, and 
who they are, and what their object was in playing 
this prank — if it was a prank — upon me. It was a 
pretty expensive joke for them, for it cost them two 
and thirty pounds." 

"We shall endeavour to clear up these points 
for you. And, first, one or two questions, Mr. Wil- 
son. This assistant of yours who first called your 
attention to the advertisement — how long had he 
been with you?" 

"About a month then." 

"How did he come?" 

"In answer to an advertisement." 

"Was he the only applicant?" 

"No, I had a dozen." 

"Why did you pick him?" 

"Because he was handy and would come 
cheap." 

"At half -wages, in fact." 

"Yes." 

"What is he like, this Vincent Spaulding?" 

"Small, stout-built, very quick in his ways, no 
hair on his face, though he's not short of thirty. 
Has a white splash of acid upon his forehead." 

Holmes sat up in his chair in considerable ex- 
citement. "I thought as much," said he. "Have 
you ever observed that his ears are pierced for ear- 
rings?" 

"Yes, sir. He told me that a gipsy had done it 
for him when he was a lad." 

"Hum!" said Holmes, sinking back in deep 
thought. "He is still with you?" 

"Oh, yes, sir; I have only just left him." 

"And has your business been attended to in 
your absence?" 

"Nothing to complain of, sir. There's never 
very much to do of a morning." 



"That will do, Mr. Wilson. I shall be happy to 
give you an opinion upon the subject in the course 
of a day or two. To-day is Saturday, and I hope 
that by Monday we may come to a conclusion." 

"Well, Watson," said Holmes when our visitor 
had left us, "what do you make of it all?" 

"I make nothing of it," I answered frankly. "It 
is a most mysterious business." 

"As a rule," said Holmes, "the more bizarre a 
thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is 
your commonplace, featureless crimes which are 
really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the 
most difficult to identify. But I must be prompt 
over this matter." 

"What are you going to do, then?" I asked. 

"To smoke," he answered. "It is quite a three 
pipe problem, and I beg that you won't speak to 
me for fifty minutes." He curled himself up in his 
chair, with his thin knees drawn up to his hawk- 
like nose, and there he sat with his eyes closed 
and his black clay pipe thrusting out like the bill 
of some strange bird. I had come to the conclusion 
that he had dropped asleep, and indeed was nod- 
ding myself, when he suddenly sprang out of his 
chair with the gesture of a man who has made up 
his mind and put his pipe down upon the mantel- 
piece. 

"Sarasate plays at the St. James's Hall this after- 
noon," he remarked. "What do you think, Watson? 
Could your patients spare you for a few hours?" 

"I have nothing to do to-day. My practice is 
never very absorbing." 

"Then put on your hat and come. I am going 
through the City first, and we can have some lunch 
on the way. I observe that there is a good deal of 
German music on the programme, which is rather 
more to my taste than Italian or French. It is intro- 
spective, and I want to introspect. Come along!" 

We travelled by the Underground as far as 
Aldersgate; and a short walk took us to Saxe- 
Coburg Square, the scene of the singular story 
which we had listened to in the morning. It was 
a poky, little, shabby-genteel place, where four 
lines of dingy two-storied brick houses looked out 
into a small railed-in enclosure, where a lawn of 
weedy grass and a few clumps of faded laurel- 
bushes made a hard fight against a smoke-laden 
and uncongenial atmosphere. Three gilt balls and 
a brown board with "Jabez Wilson" in white let- 
ters, upon a corner house, announced the place 
where our red-headed client carried on his busi- 
ness. Sherlock Holmes stopped in front of it with 
his head on one side and looked it all over, with 



142 



The Red-Headed League 



his eyes shining brightly between puckered lids. 
Then he walked slowly up the street, and then 
down again to the corner, still looking keenly at 
the houses. Finally he returned to the pawnbro- 
ker's, and, having thumped vigorously upon the 
pavement with his stick two or three times, he 
went up to the door and knocked. It was instantly 
opened by a bright-looking, clean-shaven young 
fellow, who asked him to step in. 

"Thank you," said Holmes, "I only wished 
to ask you how you would go from here to the 
Strand." 

"Third right, fourth left," answered the assis- 
tant promptly, closing the door. 

"Smart fellow, that," observed Holmes as we 
walked away. "He is, in my judgment, the fourth 
smartest man in London, and for daring I am not 
sure that he has not a claim to be third. I have 
known something of him before." 

"Evidently," said I, "Mr. Wilson's assistant 
counts for a good deal in this mystery of the Red- 
headed League. I am sure that you inquired your 
way merely in order that you might see him." 

"Not him." 

"What then?" 

"The knees of his trousers." 

"And what did you see?" 

"What I expected to see." 

"Why did you beat the pavement?" 

"My dear doctor, this is a time for observation, 
not for talk. We are spies in an enemy's country. 
We know something of Saxe-Coburg Square. Let 
us now explore the parts which lie behind it. " 

The road in which we found ourselves as we 
turned round the corner from the retired Saxe- 
Coburg Square presented as great a contrast to it 
as the front of a picture does to the back. It was 
one of the main arteries which conveyed the traf- 
fic of the City to the north and west. The road- 
way was blocked with the immense stream of com- 
merce flowing in a double tide inward and out- 
ward, while the footpaths were black with the hur- 
rying swarm of pedestrians. It was difficult to re- 
alise as we looked at the line of fine shops and 
stately business premises that they really abutted 
on the other side upon the faded and stagnant 
square which we had just quitted. 

"Let me see," said Holmes, standing at the cor- 
ner and glancing along the line, "I should like just 
to remember the order of the houses here. It is a 
hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of Lon- 
don. There is Mortimer's, the tobacconist, the little 



newspaper shop, the Coburg branch of the City 
and Suburban Bank, the Vegetarian Restaurant, 
and McFarlane's carriage-building depot. That 
carries us right on to the other block. And now, 
Doctor, we've done our work, so it's time we 
had some play A sandwich and a cup of coffee, 
and then off to violin-land, where all is sweetness 
and delicacy and harmony, and there are no red- 
headed clients to vex us with their conundrums." 

My friend was an enthusiastic musician, being 
himself not only a very capable performer but a 
composer of no ordinary merit. All the afternoon 
he sat in the stalls wrapped in the most perfect 
happiness, gently waving his long, thin fingers in 
time to the music, while his gently smiling face 
and his languid, dreamy eyes were as unlike those 
of Holmes the sleuth-hound, Holmes the relent- 
less, keen-witted, ready-handed criminal agent, as 
it was possible to conceive. In his singular charac- 
ter the dual nature alternately asserted itself, and 
his extreme exactness and astuteness represented, 
as I have often thought, the reaction against the 
poetic and contemplative mood which occasion- 
ally predominated in him. The swing of his nature 
took him from extreme languor to devouring en- 
ergy; and, as I knew well, he was never so truly 
formidable as when, for days on end, he had been 
lounging in his armchair amid his improvisations 
and his black-letter editions. Then it was that the 
lust of the chase would suddenly come upon him, 
and that his brilliant reasoning power would rise 
to the level of intuition, until those who were un- 
acquainted with his methods would look askance 
at him as on a man whose knowledge was not that 
of other mortals. When I saw him that afternoon 
so enwrapped in the music at St. James's Hall I 
felt that an evil time might be coming upon those 
whom he had set himself to hunt down. 

"You want to go home, no doubt, Doctor," he 
remarked as we emerged. 

"Yes, it would be as well." 

"And I have some business to do which will 
take some hours. This business at Coburg Square 
is serious." 

"Why serious?" 

"A considerable crime is in contemplation. I 
have every reason to believe that we shall be in 
time to stop it. But to-day being Saturday rather 
complicates matters. I shall want your help to- 
night." 

"At what time?" 

"Ten will be early enough." 

"I shall be at Baker Street at ten." 



143 



The Red-Headed League 



"Very well. And, I say, Doctor, there may be 
some little danger, so kindly put your army re- 
volver in your pocket." He waved his hand, turned 
on his heel, and disappeared in an instant among 
the crowd. 

I trust that I am not more dense than my neigh- 
bours, but I was always oppressed with a sense of 
my own stupidity in my dealings with Sherlock 
Holmes. Here I had heard what he had heard, 
I had seen what he had seen, and yet from his 
words it was evident that he saw clearly not only 
what had happened but what was about to hap- 
pen, while to me the whole business was still con- 
fused and grotesque. As I drove home to my house 
in Kensington I thought over it all, from the ex- 
traordinary story of the red-headed copier of the 
"Encyclopaedia" down to the visit to Saxe-Coburg 
Square, and the ominous words with which he had 
parted from me. What was this nocturnal expedi- 
tion, and why should I go armed? Where were 
we going, and what were we to do? I had the 
hint from Holmes that this smooth-faced pawn- 
broker's assistant was a formidable man — a man 
who might play a deep game. I tried to puzzle it 
out, but gave it up in despair and set the matter 
aside until night should bring an explanation. 

It was a quarter-past nine when I started from 
home and made my way across the Park, and 
so through Oxford Street to Baker Street. Two 
hansoms were standing at the door, and as I en- 
tered the passage I heard the sound of voices from 
above. On entering his room I found Holmes in an- 
imated conversation with two men, one of whom I 
recognised as Peter Jones, the official police agent, 
while the other was a long, thin, sad-faced man, 
with a very shiny hat and oppressively respectable 
frock-coat. 

"Ha! Our party is complete," said Holmes, 
buttoning up his pea-jacket and taking his heavy 
hunting crop from the rack. "Watson, I think you 
know Mr. Jones, of Scotland Yard? Let me intro- 
duce you to Mr. Merryweather, who is to be our 
companion in to-night's adventure." 

"We're hunting in couples again, Doctor, you 
see," said Jones in his consequential way. "Our 
friend here is a wonderful man for starting a chase. 
All he wants is an old dog to help him to do the 
running down." 

"I hope a wild goose may not prove to be the 
end of our chase," observed Mr. Merryweather 
gloomily. 

"You may place considerable confidence in Mr. 
Holmes, sir," said the police agent loftily. "He has 
his own little methods, which are, if he won't mind 



my saying so, just a little too theoretical and fan- 
tastic, but he has the makings of a detective in him. 
It is not too much to say that once or twice, as in 
that business of the Sholto murder and the Agra 
treasure, he has been more nearly correct than the 
official force." 

"Oh, if you say so, Mr. Jones, it is all right," 
said the stranger with deference. "Still, I confess 
that I miss my rubber. It is the first Saturday night 
for seven-and-twenty years that I have not had my 
rubber." 

"I think you will find," said Sherlock Holmes, 
"that you will play for a higher stake to-night than 
you have ever done yet, and that the play will be 
more exciting. For you, Mr. Merryweather, the 
stake will be some £30,000; and for you, Jones, it 
will be the man upon whom you wish to lay your 
hands." 

"John Clay, the murderer, thief, smasher, and 
forger. He's a young man, Mr. Merryweather, but 
he is at the head of his profession, and I would 
rather have my bracelets on him than on any crim- 
inal in London. He's a remarkable man, is young 
John Clay. His grandfather was a royal duke, and 
he himself has been to Eton and Oxford. His brain 
is as cunning as his fingers, and though we meet 
signs of him at every turn, we never know where 
to find the man himself. He'll crack a crib in Scot- 
land one week, and be raising money to build an 
orphanage in Cornwall the next. I've been on his 
track for years and have never set eyes on him yet." 

"I hope that I may have the pleasure of intro- 
ducing you to-night. I've had one or two little 
turns also with Mr. John Clay, and I agree with 
you that he is at the head of his profession. It is 
past ten, however, and quite time that we started. 
If you two will take the first hansom, Watson and 
I will follow in the second." 

Sherlock Holmes was not very communicative 
during the long drive and lay back in the cab hum- 
ming the tunes which he had heard in the after- 
noon. We rattled through an endless labyrinth 
of gas-lit streets until we emerged into Farrington 
Street. 

"We are close there now," my friend remarked. 
"This fellow Merryweather is a bank director, and 
personally interested in the matter. I thought it as 
well to have Jones with us also. He is not a bad 
fellow, though an absolute imbecile in his profes- 
sion. He has one positive virtue. He is as brave as 
a bulldog and as tenacious as a lobster if he gets 
his claws upon anyone. Here we are, and they are 
waiting for us." 



144 



The Red-Headed League 



We had reached the same crowded thorough- 
fare in which we had found ourselves in the morn- 
ing. Our cabs were dismissed, and, following the 
guidance of Mr. Merryweather, we passed down 
a narrow passage and through a side door, which 
he opened for us. Within there was a small cor- 
ridor, which ended in a very massive iron gate. 
This also was opened, and led down a flight of 
winding stone steps, which terminated at another 
formidable gate. Mr. Merryweather stopped to 
light a lantern, and then conducted us down a 
dark, earth-smelling passage, and so, after open- 
ing a third door, into a huge vault or cellar, which 
was piled all round with crates and massive boxes. 

"You are not very vulnerable from above," 
Holmes remarked as he held up the lantern and 
gazed about him. 

"Nor from below," said Mr. Merryweather, 
striking his stick upon the flags which lined the 
floor. "Why, dear me, it sounds quite hollow!" he 
remarked, looking up in surprise. 

"I must really ask you to be a little more quiet! " 
said Holmes severely. "You have already imper- 
illed the whole success of our expedition. Might I 
beg that you would have the goodness to sit down 
upon one of those boxes, and not to interfere?" 

The solemn Mr. Merryweather perched himself 
upon a crate, with a very injured expression upon 
his face, while Holmes fell upon his knees upon 
the floor and, with the lantern and a magnifying 
lens, began to examine minutely the cracks be- 
tween the stones. A few seconds sufficed to satisfy 
him, for he sprang to his feet again and put his 
glass in his pocket. 

"We have at least an hour before us," he re- 
marked, "for they can hardly take any steps until 
the good pawnbroker is safely in bed. Then they 
will not lose a minute, for the sooner they do their 
work the longer time they will have for their es- 
cape. We are at present, Doctor — as no doubt you 
have divined — in the cellar of the City branch of 
one of the principal London banks. Mr. Merry- 
weather is the chairman of directors, and he will 
explain to you that there are reasons why the more 
daring criminals of London should take a consid- 
erable interest in this cellar at present." 

"It is our French gold," whispered the director. 
"We have had several warnings that an attempt 
might be made upon it." 

"Your French gold?" 

"Yes. We had occasion some months ago to 
strengthen our resources and borrowed for that 
purpose 30,000 napoleons from the Bank of France. 



It has become known that we have never had occa- 
sion to unpack the money, and that it is still lying 
in our cellar. The crate upon which I sit contains 
2,000 napoleons packed between layers of lead foil. 
Our reserve of bullion is much larger at present 
than is usually kept in a single branch office, and 
the directors have had misgivings upon the sub- 
ject." 

"Which were very well justified," observed 
Holmes. "And now it is time that we arranged our 
little plans. I expect that within an hour matters 
will come to a head. In the meantime Mr. Mer- 
ryweather, we must put the screen over that dark 
lantern." 

"And sit in the dark?" 

"I am afraid so. I had brought a pack of cards 
in my pocket, and I thought that, as we were a par- 
tie carree, you might have your rubber after all. But 
I see that the enemy's preparations have gone so 
far that we cannot risk the presence of a light. And, 
first of all, we must choose our positions. These 
are daring men, and though we shall take them at 
a disadvantage, they may do us some harm un- 
less we are careful. I shall stand behind this crate, 
and do you conceal yourselves behind those. Then, 
when I flash a light upon them, close in swiftly. 
If they fire, Watson, have no compunction about 
shooting them down." 

I placed my revolver, cocked, upon the top 
of the wooden case behind which I crouched. 
Holmes shot the slide across the front of his 
lantern and left us in pitch darkness — such an ab- 
solute darkness as I have never before experienced. 
The smell of hot metal remained to assure us that 
the light was still there, ready to flash out at a mo- 
ment's notice. To me, with my nerves worked up 
to a pitch of expectancy, there was something de- 
pressing and subduing in the sudden gloom, and 
in the cold dank air of the vault. 

"They have but one retreat," whispered 
Holmes. "That is back through the house into 
Saxe-Coburg Square. I hope that you have done 
what I asked you, Jones?" 

"I have an inspector and two officers waiting at 
the front door." 

"Then we have stopped all the holes. And now 
we must be silent and wait." 

What a time it seemed! From comparing notes 
afterwards it was but an hour and a quarter, yet it 
appeared to me that the night must have almost 
gone and the dawn be breaking above us. My 
limbs were weary and stiff, for I feared to change 
my position; yet my nerves were worked up to the 



145 



The Red-Headed League 



highest pitch of tension, and my hearing was so 
acute that I could not only hear the gentle breath- 
ing of my companions, but I could distinguish the 
deeper, heavier in-breath of the bulky Jones from 
the thin, sighing note of the bank director. From 
my position I could look over the case in the di- 
rection of the floor. Suddenly my eyes caught the 
glint of a light. 

At first it was but a lurid spark upon the stone 
pavement. Then it lengthened out until it became 
a yellow line, and then, without any warning or 
sound, a gash seemed to open and a hand ap- 
peared, a white, almost womanly hand, which felt 
about in the centre of the little area of light. For a 
minute or more the hand, with its writhing fingers, 
protruded out of the floor. Then it was withdrawn 
as suddenly as it appeared, and all was dark again 
save the single lurid spark which marked a chink 
between the stones. 

Its disappearance, however, was but momen- 
tary. With a rending, tearing sound, one of the 
broad, white stones turned over upon its side and 
left a square, gaping hole, through which streamed 
the light of a lantern. Over the edge there peeped a 
clean-cut, boyish face, which looked keenly about 
it, and then, with a hand on either side of the aper- 
ture, drew itself shoulder-high and waist-high, un- 
til one knee rested upon the edge. In another in- 
stant he stood at the side of the hole and was haul- 
ing after him a companion, lithe and small like 
himself, with a pale face and a shock of very red 
hair. 

"It's all clear," he whispered. "Have you the 
chisel and the bags? Great Scott! Jump, Archie, 
jump, and I'll swing for it!" 

Sherlock Holmes had sprung out and seized 
the intruder by the collar. The other dived down 
the hole, and I heard the sound of rending cloth 
as Jones clutched at his skirts. The light flashed 
upon the barrel of a revolver, but Holmes' hunting 
crop came down on the man's wrist, and the pistol 
clinked upon the stone floor. 

"It's no use, John Clay," said Holmes blandly. 
"You have no chance at all." 

"So I see," the other answered with the utmost 
coolness. "I fancy that my pal is all right, though I 
see you have got his coat-tails." 

"There are three men waiting for him at the 
door," said Holmes. 

"Oh, indeed! You seem to have done the thing 
very completely. I must compliment you." 

"And I you," Holmes answered. "Your red- 
headed idea was very new and effective." 



"You'll see your pal again presently," said 
Jones. "He's quicker at climbing down holes than 
I am. Just hold out while I fix the derbies." 

"I beg that you will not touch me with your 
filthy hands," remarked our prisoner as the hand- 
cuffs clattered upon his wrists. "You may not be 
aware that I have royal blood in my veins. Have 
the goodness, also, when you address me always 
to say 'sir' and 'please.' " 

"All right," said Jones with a stare and a snig- 
ger. "Well, would you please, sir, march upstairs, 
where we can get a cab to carry your Highness to 
the police-station?" 

"That is better," said John Clay serenely. He 
made a sweeping bow to the three of us and 
walked quietly off in the custody of the detective. 

"Really, Mr. Holmes," said Mr. Merryweather 
as we followed them from the cellar, "I do not 
know how the bank can thank you or repay you. 
There is no doubt that you have detected and de- 
feated in the most complete manner one of the 
most determined attempts at bank robbery that 
have ever come within my experience." 

"I have had one or two little scores of my own 
to settle with Mr. John Clay," said Holmes. "I have 
been at some small expense over this matter, which 
I shall expect the bank to refund, but beyond that 
I am amply repaid by having had an experience 
which is in many ways unique, and by hearing 
the very remarkable narrative of the Red-headed 
League." 

"You see, Watson," he explained in the early 
hours of the morning as we sat over a glass of 
whisky and soda in Baker Street, "it was perfectly 
obvious from the first that the only possible object 
of this rather fantastic business of the advertise- 
ment of the League, and the copying of the 'En- 
cyclopaedia,' must be to get this not over-bright 
pawnbroker out of the way for a number of hours 
every day. It was a curious way of managing it, 
but, really, it would be difficult to suggest a bet- 
ter. The method was no doubt suggested to Clay's 
ingenious mind by the colour of his accomplice's 
hair. The £4 a week was a lure which must draw 
him, and what was it to them, who were playing 
for thousands? They put in the advertisement, one 
rogue has the temporary office, the other rogue in- 
cites the man to apply for it, and together they 
manage to secure his absence every morning in the 
week. From the time that I heard of the assistant 
having come for half wages, it was obvious to me 
that he had some strong motive for securing the 
situation." 



146 



"But how could you guess what the motive 
was?" 

"Had there been women in the house, I should 
have suspected a mere vulgar intrigue. That, how- 
ever, was out of the question. The man's busi- 
ness was a small one, and there was nothing in 
his house which could account for such elabo- 
rate preparations, and such an expenditure as they 
were at. It must, then, be something out of the 
house. What could it be? I thought of the assis- 
tant's fondness for photography, and his trick of 
vanishing into the cellar. The cellar! There was the 
end of this tangled clue. Then I made inquiries as 
to this mysterious assistant and found that I had to 
deal with one of the coolest and most daring crim- 
inals in London. He was doing something in the 
cellar — something which took many hours a day 
for months on end. What could it be, once more? 
I could think of nothing save that he was running 
a tunnel to some other building. 

"So far I had got when we went to visit the 
scene of action. I surprised you by beating upon 
the pavement with my stick. I was ascertaining 
whether the cellar stretched out in front or behind. 
It was not in front. Then I rang the bell, and, as 
I hoped, the assistant answered it. We have had 
some skirmishes, but we had never set eyes upon 
each other before. I hardly looked at his face. 
His knees were what I wished to see. You must 
yourself have remarked how worn, wrinkled, and 
stained they were. They spoke of those hours of 
burrowing. The only remaining point was what 



they were burrowing for. I walked round the cor- 
ner, saw the City and Suburban Bank abutted on 
our friend's premises, and felt that I had solved my 
problem. When you drove home after the concert I 
called upon Scotland Yard and upon the chairman 
of the bank directors, with the result that you have 
seen." 

"And how could you tell that they would make 
their attempt to-night?" I asked. 

"Well, when they closed their League offices 
that was a sign that they cared no longer about 
Mr. Jabez Wilson's presence — in other words, that 
they had completed their tunnel. But it was es- 
sential that they should use it soon, as it might be 
discovered, or the bullion might be removed. Sat- 
urday would suit them better than any other day, 
as it would give them two days for their escape. 
For all these reasons I expected them to come to- 
night." 

"You reasoned it out beautifully," I exclaimed 
in unfeigned admiration. "It is so long a chain, 
and yet every link rings true." 

"It saved me from ennui," he answered, yawn- 
ing. "Alas! I already feel it closing in upon me. My 
life is spent in one long effort to escape from the 
commonplaces of existence. These little problems 
help me to do so." 

"And you are a benefactor of the race," said I. 

He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, perhaps, 
after all, it is of some little use," he remarked. 
" 'L'homme c'est rien — I'oeuvre c'est tout,' as Gustave 
Flaubert wrote to George Sand." 



A Case of Identity 



A Case of Identity 




>y dear fellow," said Sherlock Holmes 
as we sat on either side of the fire in 
his lodgings at Baker Street, "life is in- 
finitely stranger than anything which 
the mind of man could invent. We would not 
dare to conceive the things which are really mere 
commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of 
that window hand in hand, hover over this great 
city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the 
queer things which are going on, the strange co- 
incidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the 
wonderful chains of events, working through gen- 
erations, and leading to the most outre results, it 
would make all fiction with its conventionalities 
and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprof- 
itable." 

"And yet I am not convinced of it," I answered. 
"The cases which come to light in the papers are, 
as a rule, bald enough, and vulgar enough. We 
have in our police reports realism pushed to its ex- 
treme limits, and yet the result is, it must be con- 
fessed, neither fascinating nor artistic." 

"A certain selection and discretion must be 
used in producing a realistic effect," remarked 
Holmes. "This is wanting in the police report, 
where more stress is laid, perhaps, upon the plat- 
itudes of the magistrate than upon the details, 
which to an observer contain the vital essence of 
the whole matter. Depend upon it, there is noth- 
ing so unnatural as the commonplace." 

I smiled and shook my head. "I can quite un- 
derstand your thinking so." I said. "Of course, in 
your position of unofficial adviser and helper to 
everybody who is absolutely puzzled, throughout 
three continents, you are brought in contact with 
all that is strange and bizarre. But here" — I picked 
up the morning paper from the ground — "let us 
put it to a practical test. Here is the first heading 
upon which I come. 'A husband's cruelty to his 
wife.' There is half a column of print, but I know 
without reading it that it is all perfectly familiar 
to me. There is, of course, the other woman, the 
drink, the push, the blow, the bruise, the sympa- 
thetic sister or landlady. The crudest of writers 
could invent nothing more crude." 

"Indeed, your example is an unfortunate one 
for your argument," said Holmes, taking the pa- 
per and glancing his eye down it. "This is the 
Dundas separation case, and, as it happens, I was 
engaged in clearing up some small points in con- 
nection with it. The husband was a teetotaler, there 
was no other woman, and the conduct complained 
of was that he had drifted into the habit of wind- 
ing up every meal by taking out his false teeth and 



hurling them at his wife, which, you will allow, is 
not an action likely to occur to the imagination of 
the average story-teller. Take a pinch of snuff, Doc- 
tor, and acknowledge that I have scored over you 
in your example." 

He held out his snuffbox of old gold, with a 
great amethyst in the centre of the lid. Its splen- 
dour was in such contrast to his homely ways and 
simple life that I could not help commenting upon 
it. 

"Ah," said he, "I forgot that I had not seen you 
for some weeks. It is a little souvenir from the King 
of Bohemia in return for my assistance in the case 
of the Irene Adler papers." 

"And the ring?" I asked, glancing at a remark- 
able brilliant which sparkled upon his finger. 

"It was from the reigning family of Holland, 
though the matter in which I served them was of 
such delicacy that I cannot confide it even to you, 
who have been good enough to chronicle one or 
two of my little problems." 

"And have you any on hand just now?" I asked 
with interest. 

"Some ten or twelve, but none which present 
any feature of interest. They are important, you 
understand, without being interesting. Indeed, I 
have found that it is usually in unimportant mat- 
ters that there is a field for the observation, and for 
the quick analysis of cause and effect which gives 
the charm to an investigation. The larger crimes 
are apt to be the simpler, for the bigger the crime 
the more obvious, as a rule, is the motive. In these 
cases, save for one rather intricate matter which 
has been referred to me from Marseilles, there is 
nothing which presents any features of interest. It 
is possible, however, that I may have something 
better before very many minutes are over, for this 
is one of my clients, or I am much mistaken." 

He had risen from his chair and was standing 
between the parted blinds gazing down into the 
dull neutral-tinted London street. Looking over 
his shoulder, I saw that on the pavement opposite 
there stood a large woman with a heavy fur boa 
round her neck, and a large curling red feather 
in a broad-brimmed hat which was tilted in a co- 
quettish Duchess of Devonshire fashion over her 
ear. From under this great panoply she peeped up 
in a nervous, hesitating fashion at our windows, 
while her body oscillated backward and forward, 
and her fingers fidgeted with her glove buttons. 
Suddenly, with a plunge, as of the swimmer who 
leaves the bank, she hurried across the road, and 
we heard the sharp clang of the bell. 



151 



A Case of Identity 



"I have seen those symptoms before," said 
Holmes, throwing his cigarette into the fire. "Os- 
cillation upon the pavement always means an af- 
faire de coeur. She would like advice, but is not 
sure that the matter is not too delicate for commu- 
nication. And yet even here we may discriminate. 
When a woman has been seriously wronged by a 
man she no longer oscillates, and the usual symp- 
tom is a broken bell wire. Here we may take it that 
there is a love matter, but that the maiden is not so 
much angry as perplexed, or grieved. But here she 
comes in person to resolve our doubts." 

As he spoke there was a tap at the door, and 
the boy in buttons entered to announce Miss Mary 
Sutherland, while the lady herself loomed behind 
his small black figure like a full-sailed merchant- 
man behind a tiny pilot boat. Sherlock Holmes 
welcomed her with the easy courtesy for which he 
was remarkable, and, having closed the door and 
bowed her into an armchair, he looked her over in 
the minute and yet abstracted fashion which was 
peculiar to him. 

"Do you not find," he said, "that with your 
short sight it is a little trying to do so much type- 
writing?" 

"I did at first," she answered, "but now I know 
where the letters are without looking." Then, sud- 
denly realising the full purport of his words, she 
gave a violent start and looked up, with fear and 
astonishment upon her broad, good-humoured 
face. "You've heard about me, Mr. Holmes," she 
cried, "else how could you know all that?" 

"Never mind," said Holmes, laughing; "it is 
my business to know things. Perhaps I have 
trained myself to see what others overlook. If not, 
why should you come to consult me?" 

"I came to you, sir, because I heard of you from 
Mrs. Etherege, whose husband you found so easy 
when the police and everyone had given him up 
for dead. Oh, Mr. Holmes, I wish you would do as 
much for me. I'm not rich, but still I have a hun- 
dred a year in my own right, besides the little that 
I make by the machine, and I would give it all to 
know what has become of Mr. Hosmer Angel." 

"Why did you come away to consult me in such 
a hurry?" asked Sherlock Holmes, with his finger- 
tips together and his eyes to the ceiling. 

Again a startled look came over the some- 
what vacuous face of Miss Mary Sutherland. "Yes, 
I did bang out of the house," she said, "for it 
made me angry to see the easy way in which Mr. 
Windibank — that is, my father — took it all. He 
would not go to the police, and he would not go 



to you, and so at last, as he would do nothing and 
kept on saying that there was no harm done, it 
made me mad, and I just on with my things and 
came right away to you." 

"Your father," said Holmes, "your stepfather, 
surely, since the name is different." 

"Yes, my stepfather. I call him father, though 
it sounds funny, too, for he is only five years and 
two months older than myself." 

"And your mother is alive?" 

"Oh, yes, mother is alive and well. I wasn't 
best pleased, Mr. Holmes, when she married again 
so soon after father's death, and a man who was 
nearly fifteen years younger than herself. Father 
was a plumber in the Tottenham Court Road, and 
he left a tidy business behind him, which mother 
carried on with Mr. Hardy, the foreman; but when 
Mr. Windibank came he made her sell the busi- 
ness, for he was very superior, being a traveller in 
wines. They got £4700 for the goodwill and in- 
terest, which wasn't near as much as father could 
have got if he had been alive." 

I had expected to see Sherlock Holmes impa- 
tient under this rambling and inconsequential nar- 
rative, but, on the contrary, he had listened with 
the greatest concentration of attention. 

"Your own little income," he asked, "does it 
come out of the business?" 

"Oh, no, sir. It is quite separate and was left 
me by my uncle Ned in Auckland. It is in New 
Zealand stock, paying 4 i per cent. Two thousand 
five hundred pounds was the amount, but I can 
only touch the interest." 

"You interest me extremely," said Holmes. 
"And since you draw so large a sum as a hun- 
dred a year, with what you earn into the bargain, 
you no doubt travel a little and indulge yourself in 
every way. I believe that a single lady can get on 
very nicely upon an income of about £60." 

"I could do with much less than that, Mr. 
Holmes, but you understand that as long as I live 
at home I don't wish to be a burden to them, and 
so they have the use of the money just while I am 
staying with them. Of course, that is only just for 
the time. Mr. Windibank draws my interest every 
quarter and pays it over to mother, and I find that I 
can do pretty well with what I earn at typewriting. 
It brings me twopence a sheet, and I can often do 
from fifteen to twenty sheets in a day." 

"You have made your position very clear to 
me," said Holmes. "This is my friend, Dr. Watson, 
before whom you can speak as freely as before my- 
self. Kindly tell us now all about your connection 
with Mr. Hosmer Angel." 



152 



A Case of Identity 



A flush stole over Miss Sutherland's face, and 
she picked nervously at the fringe of her jacket. 
"I met him first at the gasfitters' ball," she said. 
"They used to send father tickets when he was 
alive, and then afterwards they remembered us, 
and sent them to mother. Mr. Windibank did not 
wish us to go. He never did wish us to go any- 
where. He would get quite mad if I wanted so 
much as to join a Sunday-school treat. But this 
time I was set on going, and I would go; for what 
right had he to prevent? He said the folk were not 
fit for us to know, when all father's friends were 
to be there. And he said that I had nothing fit to 
wear, when I had my purple plush that I had never 
so much as taken out of the drawer. At last, when 
nothing else would do, he went off to France upon 
the business of the firm, but we went, mother and 
I, with Mr. Hardy, who used to be our foreman, 
and it was there I met Mr. Hosmer Angel." 

"I suppose," said Holmes, "that when Mr. 
Windibank came back from France he was very an- 
noyed at your having gone to the ball." 

"Oh, well, he was very good about it. He 
laughed, I remember, and shrugged his shoulders, 
and said there was no use denying anything to a 
woman, for she would have her way. " 

"I see. Then at the gasfitters' ball you met, as 
I understand, a gentleman called Mr. Hosmer An- 
gel." 

"Yes, sir. I met him that night, and he called 
next day to ask if we had got home all safe, and af- 
ter that we met him — that is to say, Mr. Holmes, I 
met him twice for walks, but after that father came 
back again, and Mr. Hosmer Angel could not come 
to the house any more." 

"No?" 

"Well, you know father didn't like anything of 
the sort. He wouldn't have any visitors if he could 
help it, and he used to say that a woman should be 
happy in her own family circle. But then, as I used 
to say to mother, a woman wants her own circle to 
begin with, and I had not got mine yet." 

"But how about Mr. Hosmer Angel? Did he 
make no attempt to see you?" 

"Well, father was going off to France again in 
a week, and Hosmer wrote and said that it would 
be safer and better not to see each other until he 
had gone. We could write in the meantime, and he 
used to write every day. I took the letters in in the 
morning, so there was no need for father to know. " 

"Were you engaged to the gentleman at this 
time?" 



"Oh, yes, Mr. Holmes. We were engaged af- 
ter the first walk that we took. Hosmer — Mr. 
Angel — was a cashier in an office in Leadenhall 
Street — and — " 

"What office?" 

"That's the worst of it, Mr. Holmes, I don't 
know." 

"Where did he live, then?" 
"He slept on the premises." 
"And you don't know his address?" 
"No — except that it was Leadenhall Street." 
"Where did you address your letters, then?" 
"To the Leadenhall Street Post Office, to be left 
till called for. He said that if they were sent to 
the office he would be chaffed by all the other 
clerks about having letters from a lady, so I of- 
fered to typewrite them, like he did his, but he 
wouldn't have that, for he said that when I wrote 
them they seemed to come from me, but when 
they were typewritten he always felt that the ma- 
chine had come between us. That will just show 
you how fond he was of me, Mr. Holmes, and the 
little things that he would think of." 

"It was most suggestive," said Holmes. "It has 
long been an axiom of mine that the little things 
are infinitely the most important. Can you remem- 
ber any other little things about Mr. Hosmer An- 
gel?" ' 

"He was a very shy man, Mr. Holmes. He 
would rather walk with me in the evening than 
in the daylight, for he said that he hated to be con- 
spicuous. Very retiring and gentlemanly he was. 
Even his voice was gentle. He'd had the quinsy 
and swollen glands when he was young, he told 
me, and it had left him with a weak throat, and a 
hesitating, whispering fashion of speech. He was 
always well dressed, very neat and plain, but his 
eyes were weak, just as mine are, and he wore 
tinted glasses against the glare." 

"Well, and what happened when Mr. 
Windibank, your stepfather, returned to France?" 

"Mr. Hosmer Angel came to the house again 
and proposed that we should marry before father 
came back. He was in dreadful earnest and made 
me swear, with my hands on the Testament, that 
whatever happened I would always be true to him. 
Mother said he was quite right to make me swear, 
and that it was a sign of his passion. Mother was 
all in his favour from the first and was even fonder 
of him than I was. Then, when they talked of mar- 
rying within the week, I began to ask about fa- 
ther; but they both said never to mind about fa- 
ther, but just to tell him afterwards, and mother 



153 



A Case of Identity 



said she would make it all right with him. I didn't 
quite like that, Mr. Holmes. It seemed funny that 
I should ask his leave, as he was only a few years 
older than me; but I didn't want to do anything on 
the sly, so I wrote to father at Bordeaux, where the 
company has its French offices, but the letter came 
back to me on the very morning of the wedding." 

"It missed him, then?" 

"Yes, sir; for he had started to England just be- 
fore it arrived." 

"Ha! that was unfortunate. Your wedding was 
arranged, then, for the Friday. Was it to be in 
church?" 

"Yes, sir, but very quietly. It was to be at St. 
Saviour's, near King's Cross, and we were to have 
breakfast afterwards at the St. Pancras Hotel. Hos- 
mer came for us in a hansom, but as there were 
two of us he put us both into it and stepped him- 
self into a four-wheeler, which happened to be 
the only other cab in the street. We got to the 
church first, and when the four-wheeler drove up 
we waited for him to step out, but he never did, 
and when the cabman got down from the box and 
looked there was no one there! The cabman said 
that he could not imagine what had become of 
him, for he had seen him get in with his own eyes. 
That was last Friday, Mr. Holmes, and I have never 
seen or heard anything since then to throw any 
light upon what became of him. " 

"It seems to me that you have been very shame- 
fully treated," said Holmes. 

"Oh, no, sir! He was too good and kind to 
leave me so. Why, all the morning he was saying to 
me that, whatever happened, I was to be true; and 
that even if something quite unforeseen occurred 
to separate us, I was always to remember that I 
was pledged to him, and that he would claim his 
pledge sooner or later. It seemed strange talk for 
a wedding-morning, but what has happened since 
gives a meaning to it." 

"Most certainly it does. Your own opinion is, 
then, that some unforeseen catastrophe has oc- 
curred to him?" 

"Yes, sir. I believe that he foresaw some dan- 
ger, or else he would not have talked so. And then 
I think that what he foresaw happened." 

"But you have no notion as to what it could 
have been?" 

"None." 

"One more question. How did your mother 
take the matter?" 



"She was angry, and said that I was never to 
speak of the matter again." 

"And your father? Did you tell him?" 

"Yes; and he seemed to think, with me, that 
something had happened, and that I should hear 
of Hosmer again. As he said, what interest could 
anyone have in bringing me to the doors of the 
church, and then leaving me? Now, if he had bor- 
rowed my money, or if he had married me and got 
my money settled on him, there might be some 
reason, but Hosmer was very independent about 
money and never would look at a shilling of mine. 
And yet, what could have happened? And why 
could he not write? Oh, it drives me half-mad to 
think of it, and I can't sleep a wink at night." She 
pulled a little handkerchief out of her muff and 
began to sob heavily into it. 

"I shall glance into the case for you," said 
Holmes, rising, "and I have no doubt that we shall 
reach some definite result. Let the weight of the 
matter rest upon me now, and do not let your mind 
dwell upon it further. Above all, try to let Mr. Hos- 
mer Angel vanish from your memory, as he has 
done from your life." 

"Then you don't think I'll see him again?" 

"I fear not." 

"Then what has happened to him?" 

"You will leave that question in my hands. I 
should like an accurate description of him and any 
letters of his which you can spare." 

"I advertised for him in last Saturday's Chron- 
icle," said she. "Here is the slip and here are four 
letters from him." 

"Thank you. And your address?" 

"No. 31 Lyon Place, Camberwell." 

"Mr. Angel's address you never had, I under- 
stand. Where is your father's place of business?" 

"He travels for Westhouse & Marbank, the 
great claret importers of Fenchurch Street." 

"Thank you. You have made your statement 
very clearly. You will leave the papers here, and 
remember the advice which I have given you. Let 
the whole incident be a sealed book, and do not 
allow it to affect your life." 

"You are very kind, Mr. Holmes, but I cannot 
do that. I shall be true to Hosmer. He shall find 
me ready when he comes back." 

For all the preposterous hat and the vacuous 
face, there was something noble in the simple faith 
of our visitor which compelled our respect. She 
laid her little bundle of papers upon the table and 



154 



A Case of Identity 



went her way, with a promise to come again when- 
ever she might be summoned. 

Sherlock Holmes sat silent for a few minutes 
with his fingertips still pressed together, his legs 
stretched out in front of him, and his gaze directed 
upward to the ceiling. Then he took down from 
the rack the old and oily clay pipe, which was to 
him as a counsellor, and, having lit it, he leaned 
back in his chair, with the thick blue cloud-wreaths 
spinning up from him, and a look of infinite lan- 
guor in his face. 

"Quite an interesting study, that maiden," he 
observed. "I found her more interesting than her 
little problem, which, by the way, is rather a trite 
one. You will find parallel cases, if you consult my 
index, in Andover in 'jj, and there was something 
of the sort at The Hague last year. Old as is the 
idea, however, there were one or two details which 
were new to me. But the maiden herself was most 
instructive." 

"You appeared to read a good deal upon her 
which was quite invisible to me," I remarked. 

"Not invisible but unnoticed, Watson. You did 
not know where to look, and so you missed all 
that was important. I can never bring you to re- 
alise the importance of sleeves, the suggestiveness 
of thumb-nails, or the great issues that may hang 
from a boot-lace. Now, what did you gather from 
that woman's appearance? Describe it." 

"Well, she had a slate-coloured, broad- 
brimmed straw hat, with a feather of a brickish 
red. Her jacket was black, with black beads sewn 
upon it, and a fringe of little black jet ornaments. 
Her dress was brown, rather darker than coffee 
colour, with a little purple plush at the neck and 
sleeves. Her gloves were greyish and were worn 
through at the right forefinger. Her boots I didn't 
observe. She had small round, hanging gold ear- 
rings, and a general air of being fairly well-to-do 
in a vulgar, comfortable, easy-going way." 

Sherlock Holmes clapped his hands softly to- 
gether and chuckled. 

"Ton my word, Watson, you are coming along 
wonderfully. You have really done very well in- 
deed. It is true that you have missed everything 
of importance, but you have hit upon the method, 
and you have a quick eye for colour. Never trust 
to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate 
yourself upon details. My first glance is always 
at a woman's sleeve. In a man it is perhaps bet- 
ter first to take the knee of the trouser. As you 
observe, this woman had plush upon her sleeves, 
which is a most useful material for showing traces. 



The double line a little above the wrist, where the 
typewritist presses against the table, was beauti- 
fully defined. The sewing-machine, of the hand 
type, leaves a similar mark, but only on the left 
arm, and on the side of it farthest from the thumb, 
instead of being right across the broadest part, as 
this was. I then glanced at her face, and, observing 
the dint of a pince-nez at either side of her nose, I 
ventured a remark upon short sight and typewrit- 
ing, which seemed to surprise her." 

"It surprised me." 

"But, surely, it was obvious. I was then much 
surprised and interested on glancing down to ob- 
serve that, though the boots which she was wear- 
ing were not unlike each other, they were really 
odd ones; the one having a slightly decorated toe- 
cap, and the other a plain one. One was buttoned 
only in the two lower buttons out of five, and the 
other at the first, third, and fifth. Now, when you 
see that a young lady, otherwise neatly dressed, 
has come away from home with odd boots, half- 
buttoned, it is no great deduction to say that she 
came away in a hurry." 

"And what else?" I asked, keenly interested, as 
I always was, by my friend's incisive reasoning. 

"I noted, in passing, that she had written a note 
before leaving home but after being fully dressed. 
You observed that her right glove was torn at the 
forefinger, but you did not apparently see that both 
glove and finger were stained with violet ink. She 
had written in a hurry and dipped her pen too 
deep. It must have been this morning, or the mark 
would not remain clear upon the finger. All this is 
amusing, though rather elementary, but I must go 
back to business, Watson. Would you mind read- 
ing me the advertised description of Mr. Hosmer 
Angel?" 

I held the little printed slip to the light. 

"Missing," it said, "on the morning 
of the fourteenth, a gentleman named 
Hosmer Angel. About five ft. seven in. 
in height; strongly built, sallow com- 
plexion, black hair, a little bald in the 
centre, bushy, black side-whiskers and 
moustache; tinted glasses, slight infir- 
mity of speech. Was dressed, when 
last seen, in black frock-coat faced with 
silk, black waistcoat, gold Albert chain, 
and grey Harris tweed trousers, with 
brown gaiters over elastic-sided boots. 
Known to have been employed in an 
office in Leadenhall Street. Anybody 
bringing — " 



155 



A Case of Identity 



"That will do," said Holmes. "As to the let- 
ters," he continued, glancing over them, "they are 
very commonplace. Absolutely no clue in them to 
Mr. Angel, save that he quotes Balzac once. There 
is one remarkable point, however, which will no 
doubt strike you." 

"They are typewritten," I remarked. 

"Not only that, but the signature is typewrit- 
ten. Look at the neat little 'Hosmer Angel' at the 
bottom. There is a date, you see, but no super- 
scription except Leadenhall Street, which is rather 
vague. The point about the signature is very sug- 
gestive — in fact, we may call it conclusive." 

"Of what?" 

"My dear fellow, is it possible you do not see 
how strongly it bears upon the case?" 

"I cannot say that I do unless it were that he 
wished to be able to deny his signature if an ac- 
tion for breach of promise were instituted." 

"No, that was not the point. However, I shall 
write two letters, which should settle the matter. 
One is to a firm in the City, the other is to the 
young lady's stepfather, Mr. Windibank, asking 
him whether he could meet us here at six o'clock 
tomorrow evening. It is just as well that we should 
do business with the male relatives. And now, 
Doctor, we can do nothing until the answers to 
those letters come, so we may put our little prob- 
lem upon the shelf for the interim." 

I had had so many reasons to believe in my 
friend's subtle powers of reasoning and extraordi- 
nary energy in action that I felt that he must have 
some solid grounds for the assured and easy de- 
meanour with which he treated the singular mys- 
tery which he had been called upon to fathom. 
Once only had I known him to fail, in the case of 
the King of Bohemia and of the Irene Adler photo- 
graph; but when I looked back to the weird busi- 
ness of the Sign of Four, and the extraordinary cir- 
cumstances connected with the Study in Scarlet, I 
felt that it would be a strange tangle indeed which 
he could not unravel. 

I left him then, still puffing at his black clay 
pipe, with the conviction that when I came again 
on the next evening I would find that he held in 
his hands all the clues which would lead up to the 
identity of the disappearing bridegroom of Miss 
Mary Sutherland. 

A professional case of great gravity was engag- 
ing my own attention at the time, and the whole of 
next day I was busy at the bedside of the sufferer. 
It was not until close upon six o'clock that I found 
myself free and was able to spring into a hansom 



and drive to Baker Street, half afraid that I might 
be too late to assist at the denouement of the lit- 
tle mystery. I found Sherlock Holmes alone, how- 
ever, half asleep, with his long, thin form curled 
up in the recesses of his armchair. A formidable 
array of bottles and test-tubes, with the pungent 
cleanly smell of hydrochloric acid, told me that he 
had spent his day in the chemical work which was 
so dear to him. 

"Well, have you solved it?" I asked as I entered. 

"Yes. It was the bisulphate of baryta." 

"No, no, the mystery!" I cried. 

"Oh, that! I thought of the salt that I have 
been working upon. There was never any mystery 
in the matter, though, as I said yesterday, some 
of the details are of interest. The only drawback 
is that there is no law, I fear, that can touch the 
scoundrel." 

"Who was he, then, and what was his object in 
deserting Miss Sutherland?" 

The question was hardly out of my mouth, and 
Holmes had not yet opened his lips to reply, when 
we heard a heavy footfall in the passage and a tap 
at the door. 

"This is the girl's stepfather, Mr. James 
Windibank," said Holmes. "He has written to me 
to say that he would be here at six. Come in!" 

The man who entered was a sturdy, middle- 
sized fellow, some thirty years of age, clean- 
shaven, and sallow-skinned, with a bland, insin- 
uating manner, and a pair of wonderfully sharp 
and penetrating grey eyes. He shot a questioning 
glance at each of us, placed his shiny top-hat upon 
the sideboard, and with a slight bow sidled down 
into the nearest chair. 

"Good-evening, Mr. James Windibank," said 
Holmes. "I think that this typewritten letter is 
from you, in which you made an appointment 
with me for six o'clock?" 

"Yes, sir. I am afraid that I am a little late, but I 
am not quite my own master, you know. I am sorry 
that Miss Sutherland has troubled you about this 
little matter, for I think it is far better not to wash 
linen of the sort in public. It was quite against my 
wishes that she came, but she is a very excitable, 
impulsive girl, as you may have noticed, and she 
is not easily controlled when she has made up her 
mind on a point. Of course, I did not mind you 
so much, as you are not connected with the offi- 
cial police, but it is not pleasant to have a family 
misfortune like this noised abroad. Besides, it is a 
useless expense, for how could you possibly find 
this Hosmer Angel?" 



156 



A Case of Identity 



"On the contrary," said Holmes quietly; "I have 
every reason to believe that I will succeed in dis- 
covering Mr. Hosmer Angel." 

Mr. Windibank gave a violent start and 
dropped his gloves. "I am delighted to hear it," 
he said. 

"It is a curious thing," remarked Holmes, "that 
a typewriter has really quite as much individual- 
ity as a man's handwriting. Unless they are quite 
new, no two of them write exactly alike. Some let- 
ters get more worn than others, and some wear 
only on one side. Now, you remark in this note 
of yours, Mr. Windibank, that in every case there 
is some little slurring over of the 'e,' and a slight 
defect in the tail of the 'r.' There are fourteen other 
characteristics, but those are the more obvious." 

"We do all our correspondence with this ma- 
chine at the office, and no doubt it is a little worn," 
our visitor answered, glancing keenly at Holmes 
with his bright little eyes. 

"And now I will show you what is really a very 
interesting study, Mr. Windibank," Holmes contin- 
ued. "I think of writing another little monograph 
some of these days on the typewriter and its rela- 
tion to crime. It is a subject to which I have devoted 
some little attention. I have here four letters which 
purport to come from the missing man. They are 
all typewritten. In each case, not only are the 'e's' 
slurred and the 'r's' tailless, but you will observe, 
if you care to use my magnifying lens, that the 
fourteen other characteristics to which I have al- 
luded are there as well." 

Mr. Windibank sprang out of his chair and 
picked up his hat. "I cannot waste time over this 
sort of fantastic talk, Mr. Holmes," he said. "If you 
can catch the man, catch him, and let me know 
when you have done it. " 

"Certainly," said Holmes, stepping over and 
turning the key in the door. "I let you know, then, 
that I have caught him! " 

"What! where?" shouted Mr. Windibank, turn- 
ing white to his lips and glancing about him like a 
rat in a trap. 

"Oh, it won't do — really it won't," said Holmes 
suavely. "There is no possible getting out of it, Mr. 
Windibank. It is quite too transparent, and it was 
a very bad compliment when you said that it was 
impossible for me to solve so simple a question. 
That's right! Sit down and let us talk it over." 

Our visitor collapsed into a chair, with a 
ghastly face and a glitter of moisture on his brow. 
"It — it's not actionable," he stammered. 



"I am very much afraid that it is not. But be- 
tween ourselves, Windibank, it was as cruel and 
selfish and heartless a trick in a petty way as ever 
came before me. Now, let me just run over the 
course of events, and you will contradict me if I go 
wrong." 

The man sat huddled up in his chair, with his 
head sunk upon his breast, like one who is utterly 
crushed. Holmes stuck his feet up on the corner of 
the mantelpiece and, leaning back with his hands 
in his pockets, began talking, rather to himself, as 
it seemed, than to us. 

"The man married a woman very much older 
than himself for her money," said he, "and he en- 
joyed the use of the money of the daughter as 
long as she lived with them. It was a consid- 
erable sum, for people in their position, and the 
loss of it would have made a serious difference. It 
was worth an effort to preserve it. The daughter 
was of a good, amiable disposition, but affection- 
ate and warm-hearted in her ways, so that it was 
evident that with her fair personal advantages, and 
her little income, she would not be allowed to re- 
main single long. Now her marriage would mean, 
of course, the loss of a hundred a year, so what 
does her stepfather do to prevent it? He takes 
the obvious course of keeping her at home and 
forbidding her to seek the company of people of 
her own age. But soon he found that that would 
not answer forever. She became restive, insisted 
upon her rights, and finally announced her posi- 
tive intention of going to a certain ball. What does 
her clever stepfather do then? He conceives an 
idea more creditable to his head than to his heart. 
With the connivance and assistance of his wife he 
disguised himself, covered those keen eyes with 
tinted glasses, masked the face with a moustache 
and a pair of bushy whiskers, sunk that clear voice 
into an insinuating whisper, and doubly secure on 
account of the girl's short sight, he appears as Mr. 
Hosmer Angel, and keeps off other lovers by mak- 
ing love himself." 

"It was only a joke at first," groaned our visi- 
tor. "We never thought that she would have been 
so carried away." 

"Very likely not. However that may be, the 
young lady was very decidedly carried away, and, 
having quite made up her mind that her step- 
father was in France, the suspicion of treachery 
never for an instant entered her mind. She was 
flattered by the gentleman's attentions, and the 
effect was increased by the loudly expressed ad- 
miration of her mother. Then Mr. Angel began 
to call, for it was obvious that the matter should 



157 



be pushed as far as it would go if a real effect 
were to be produced. There were meetings, and 
an engagement, which would finally secure the 
girl's affections from turning towards anyone else. 
But the deception could not be kept up forever. 
These pretended journeys to France were rather 
cumbrous. The thing to do was clearly to bring 
the business to an end in such a dramatic manner 
that it would leave a permanent impression upon 
the young lady's mind and prevent her from look- 
ing upon any other suitor for some time to come. 
Hence those vows of fidelity exacted upon a Tes- 
tament, and hence also the allusions to a possibil- 
ity of something happening on the very morning 
of the wedding. James Windibank wished Miss 
Sutherland to be so bound to Hosmer Angel, and 
so uncertain as to his fate, that for ten years to 
come, at any rate, she would not listen to another 
man. As far as the church door he brought her, 
and then, as he could go no farther, he conve- 
niently vanished away by the old trick of stepping 
in at one door of a four-wheeler and out at the 
other. I think that was the chain of events, Mr. 
Windibank!" 

Our visitor had recovered something of his as- 
surance while Holmes had been talking, and he 
rose from his chair now with a cold sneer upon his 
pale face. 

"It may be so, or it may not, Mr. Holmes," said 
he, "but if you are so very sharp you ought to be 
sharp enough to know that it is you who are break- 
ing the law now, and not me. I have done nothing 
actionable from the first, but as long as you keep 
that door locked you lay yourself open to an action 
for assault and illegal constraint." 

"The law cannot, as you say, touch you," said 
Holmes, unlocking and throwing open the door, 
"yet there never was a man who deserved punish- 
ment more. If the young lady has a brother or a 
friend, he ought to lay a whip across your shoul- 
ders. By Jove!" he continued, flushing up at the 
sight of the bitter sneer upon the man's face, "it 
is not part of my duties to my client, but here's a 
hunting crop handy, and I think I shall just treat 
myself to — " He took two swift steps to the whip, 
but before he could grasp it there was a wild clat- 
ter of steps upon the stairs, the heavy hall door 
banged, and from the window we could see Mr. 
James Windibank running at the top of his speed 
down the road. 



"There's a cold-blooded scoundrel!" said 
Holmes, laughing, as he threw himself down into 
his chair once more. "That fellow will rise from 
crime to crime until he does something very bad, 
and ends on a gallows. The case has, in some re- 
spects, been not entirely devoid of interest." 

"I cannot now entirely see all the steps of your 
reasoning," I remarked. 

"Well, of course it was obvious from the first 
that this Mr. Hosmer Angel must have some strong 
object for his curious conduct, and it was equally 
clear that the only man who really profited by the 
incident, as far as we could see, was the stepfa- 
ther. Then the fact that the two men were never 
together, but that the one always appeared when 
the other was away, was suggestive. So were the 
tinted spectacles and the curious voice, which both 
hinted at a disguise, as did the bushy whiskers. 
My suspicions were all confirmed by his pecu- 
liar action in typewriting his signature, which, of 
course, inferred that his handwriting was so famil- 
iar to her that she would recognise even the small- 
est sample of it. You see all these isolated facts, 
together with many minor ones, all pointed in the 
same direction." 

"And how did you verify them?" 

"Having once spotted my man, it was easy 
to get corroboration. I knew the firm for which 
this man worked. Having taken the printed de- 
scription. I eliminated everything from it which 
could be the result of a disguise — the whiskers, 
the glasses, the voice, and I sent it to the firm, with 
a request that they would inform me whether it 
answered to the description of any of their trav- 
ellers. I had already noticed the peculiarities of 
the typewriter, and I wrote to the man himself at 
his business address asking him if he would come 
here. As I expected, his reply was typewritten and 
revealed the same trivial but characteristic defects. 
The same post brought me a letter from Westhouse 
& Marbank, of Fenchurch Street, to say that the de- 
scription tallied in every respect with that of their 
employee, James Windibank. Voila tout!" 

"And Miss Sutherland?" 

"If I tell her she will not believe me. You may 
remember the old Persian saying, 'There is dan- 
ger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger 
also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman.' 
There is as much sense in Hafiz as in Horace, and 
as much knowledge of the world." 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 




, e were seated at breakfast one morn- 
ing, my wife and I, when the maid 
brought in a telegram. It was from 
Sherlock Holmes and ran in this way: 

"Have you a couple of days to spare? 
Have just been wired for from the 
west of England in connection with 
Boscombe Valley tragedy. Shall be glad 
if you will come with me. Air and 
scenery perfect. Leave Paddington by 
the 11.15." 

"What do you say, dear?" said my wife, looking 
across at me. "Will you go?" 

"I really don't know what to say. I have a fairly 
long list at present." 

"Oh, Anstruther would do your work for you. 
You have been looking a little pale lately. I think 
that the change would do you good, and you 
are always so interested in Mr. Sherlock Holmes' 

cases." 

"I should be ungrateful if I were not, seeing 
what I gained through one of them," I answered. 
"But if I am to go, I must pack at once, for I have 
only half an hour." 

My experience of camp life in Afghanistan had 
at least had the effect of making me a prompt 
and ready traveller. My wants were few and sim- 
ple, so that in less than the time stated I was in 
a cab with my valise, rattling away to Padding- 
ton Station. Sherlock Holmes was pacing up and 
down the platform, his tall, gaunt figure made 
even gaunter and taller by his long grey travelling- 
cloak and close-fitting cloth cap. 

"It is really very good of you to come, Wat- 
son," said he. "It makes a considerable difference 
to me, having someone with me on whom I can 
thoroughly rely. Local aid is always either worth- 
less or else biassed. If you will keep the two corner 
seats I shall get the tickets." 

We had the carriage to ourselves save for an im- 
mense litter of papers which Holmes had brought 
with him. Among these he rummaged and read, 
with intervals of note-taking and of meditation, 
until we were past Reading. Then he suddenly 
rolled them all into a gigantic ball and tossed them 
up onto the rack. 

"Have you heard anything of the case?" he 
asked. 

"Not a word. I have not seen a paper for some 
days." 

"The London press has not had very full ac- 
counts. I have just been looking through all the 



recent papers in order to master the particulars. It 
seems, from what I gather, to be one of those sim- 
ple cases which are so extremely difficult. " 
"That sounds a little paradoxical." 

"But it is profoundly true. Singularity is al- 
most invariably a clue. The more featureless and 
commonplace a crime is, the more difficult it is to 
bring it home. In this case, however, they have es- 
tablished a very serious case against the son of the 
murdered man." 

"It is a murder, then?" 

"Well, it is conjectured to be so. I shall take 
nothing for granted until I have the opportunity of 
looking personally into it. I will explain the state 
of things to you, as far as I have been able to un- 
derstand it, in a very few words. 

"Boscombe Valley is a country district not very 
far from Ross, in Herefordshire. The largest 
landed proprietor in that part is a Mr. John Turner, 
who made his money in Australia and returned 
some years ago to the old country. One of the 
farms which he held, that of Hatherley, was let 
to Mr. Charles McCarthy, who was also an ex- 
Australian. The men had known each other in the 
colonies, so that it was not unnatural that when 
they came to settle down they should do so as 
near each other as possible. Turner was apparently 
the richer man, so McCarthy became his tenant 
but still remained, it seems, upon terms of per- 
fect equality, as they were frequently together. Mc- 
Carthy had one son, a lad of eighteen, and Turner 
had an only daughter of the same age, but nei- 
ther of them had wives living. They appear to 
have avoided the society of the neighbouring En- 
glish families and to have led retired lives, though 
both the McCarthys were fond of sport and were 
frequently seen at the race-meetings of the neigh- 
bourhood. McCarthy kept two servants — a man 
and a girl. Turner had a considerable household, 
some half-dozen at the least. That is as much as I 
have been able to gather about the families. Now 
for the facts. 

"On June 3rd, that is, on Monday last, Mc- 
Carthy left his house at Hatherley about three in 
the afternoon and walked down to the Boscombe 
Pool, which is a small lake formed by the spread- 
ing out of the stream which runs down the 
Boscombe Valley. He had been out with his 
serving-man in the morning at Ross, and he had 
told the man that he must hurry, as he had an ap- 
pointment of importance to keep at three. From 
that appointment he never came back alive. 

"From Hatherley Farm-house to the Boscombe 
Pool is a quarter of a mile, and two people saw 



161 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 



him as he passed over this ground. One was an 
old woman, whose name is not mentioned, and 
the other was William Crowder, a game-keeper in 
the employ of Mr. Turner. Both these witnesses 
depose that Mr. McCarthy was walking alone. The 
game-keeper adds that within a few minutes of his 
seeing Mr. McCarthy pass he had seen his son, Mr. 
James McCarthy, going the same way with a gun 
under his arm. To the best of his belief, the father 
was actually in sight at the time, and the son was 
following him. He thought no more of the matter 
until he heard in the evening of the tragedy that 
had occurred. 

"The two McCarthys were seen after the time 
when William Crowder, the game-keeper, lost 
sight of them. The Boscombe Pool is thickly 
wooded round, with just a fringe of grass and of 
reeds round the edge. A girl of fourteen, Patience 
Moran, who is the daughter of the lodge-keeper 
of the Boscombe Valley estate, was in one of the 
woods picking flowers. She states that while she 
was there she saw, at the border of the wood and 
close by the lake, Mr. McCarthy and his son, and 
that they appeared to be having a violent quar- 
rel. She heard Mr. McCarthy the elder using very 
strong language to his son, and she saw the lat- 
ter raise up his hand as if to strike his father. She 
was so frightened by their violence that she ran 
away and told her mother when she reached home 
that she had left the two McCarthys quarrelling 
near Boscombe Pool, and that she was afraid that 
they were going to fight. She had hardly said the 
words when young Mr. McCarthy came running 
up to the lodge to say that he had found his fa- 
ther dead in the wood, and to ask for the help 
of the lodge-keeper. He was much excited, with- 
out either his gun or his hat, and his right hand 
and sleeve were observed to be stained with fresh 
blood. On following him they found the dead 
body stretched out upon the grass beside the pool. 
The head had been beaten in by repeated blows of 
some heavy and blunt weapon. The injuries were 
such as might very well have been inflicted by the 
butt-end of his son's gun, which was found lying 
on the grass within a few paces of the body. Under 
these circumstances the young man was instantly 
arrested, and a verdict of 'wilful murder' having 
been returned at the inquest on Tuesday, he was 
on Wednesday brought before the magistrates at 
Ross, who have referred the case to the next As- 
sizes. Those are the main facts of the case as they 
came out before the coroner and the police-court. " 

"I could hardly imagine a more damning case," 
I remarked. "If ever circumstantial evidence 
pointed to a criminal it does so here." 



"Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky 
thing," answered Holmes thoughtfully. "It may 
seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you 
shift your own point of view a little, you may find 
it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner 
to something entirely different. It must be con- 
fessed, however, that the case looks exceedingly 
grave against the young man, and it is very pos- 
sible that he is indeed the culprit. There are sev- 
eral people in the neighbourhood, however, and 
among them Miss Turner, the daughter of the 
neighbouring landowner, who believe in his inno- 
cence, and who have retained Lestrade, whom you 
may recollect in connection with the Study in Scar- 
let, to work out the case in his interest. Lestrade, 
being rather puzzled, has referred the case to me, 
and hence it is that two middle-aged gentlemen 
are flying westward at fifty miles an hour instead 
of quietly digesting their breakfasts at home." 

"I am afraid," said I, "that the facts are so obvi- 
ous that you will find little credit to be gained out 
of this case." 

"There is nothing more deceptive than an ob- 
vious fact," he answered, laughing. "Besides, we 
may chance to hit upon some other obvious facts 
which may have been by no means obvious to Mr. 
Lestrade. You know me too well to think that I 
am boasting when I say that I shall either confirm 
or destroy his theory by means which he is quite 
incapable of employing, or even of understanding. 
To take the first example to hand, I very clearly 
perceive that in your bedroom the window is upon 
the right-hand side, and yet I question whether Mr. 
Lestrade would have noted even so self-evident a 
thing as that." 

"How on earth — " 

"My dear fellow, I know you well. I know the 
military neatness which characterises you. You 
shave every morning, and in this season you shave 
by the sunlight; but since your shaving is less and 
less complete as we get farther back on the left 
side, until it becomes positively slovenly as we get 
round the angle of the jaw, it is surely very clear 
that that side is less illuminated than the other. I 
could not imagine a man of your habits looking at 
himself in an equal light and being satisfied with 
such a result. I only quote this as a trivial ex- 
ample of observation and inference. Therein lies 
my metier, and it is just possible that it may be of 
some service in the investigation which lies before 
us. There are one or two minor points which were 
brought out in the inquest, and which are worth 
considering." 

"What are they?" 



162 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 



"It appears that his arrest did not take place at 
once, but after the return to Hatherley Farm. On 
the inspector of constabulary informing him that 
he was a prisoner, he remarked that he was not 
surprised to hear it, and that it was no more than 
his deserts. This observation of his had the nat- 
ural effect of removing any traces of doubt which 
might have remained in the minds of the coroner's 
jury." 

"It was a confession," I ejaculated. 

"No, for it was followed by a protestation of 
innocence." 

"Coming on the top of such a damning series of 
events, it was at least a most suspicious remark." 

"On the contrary," said Holmes, "it is the 
brightest rift which I can at present see in the 
clouds. However innocent he might be, he could 
not be such an absolute imbecile as not to see that 
the circumstances were very black against him. 
Had he appeared surprised at his own arrest, or 
feigned indignation at it, I should have looked 
upon it as highly suspicious, because such sur- 
prise or anger would not be natural under the cir- 
cumstances, and yet might appear to be the best 
policy to a scheming man. His frank acceptance 
of the situation marks him as either an innocent 
man, or else as a man of considerable self-restraint 
and firmness. As to his remark about his deserts, 
it was also not unnatural if you consider that he 
stood beside the dead body of his father, and that 
there is no doubt that he had that very day so far 
forgotten his filial duty as to bandy words with 
him, and even, according to the little girl whose 
evidence is so important, to raise his hand as if to 
strike him. The self-reproach and contrition which 
are displayed in his remark appear to me to be 
the signs of a healthy mind rather than of a guilty 
one." 

I shook my head. "Many men have been 
hanged on far slighter evidence," I remarked. 

"So they have. And many men have been 
wrongfully hanged." 

"What is the young man's own account of the 
matter?" 

"It is, I am afraid, not very encouraging to his 
supporters, though there are one or two points in 
it which are suggestive. You will find it here, and 
may read it for yourself. " 

He picked out from his bundle a copy of the lo- 
cal Herefordshire paper, and having turned down 
the sheet he pointed out the paragraph in which 
the unfortunate young man had given his own 
statement of what had occurred. I settled myself 



down in the corner of the carriage and read it very 

carefully. It ran in this way: 

"Mr. James McCarthy, the only son of the 
deceased, was then called and gave evidence 
as follows: T had been away from home for 
three days at Bristol, and had only just re- 
turned upon the morning of last Monday, 
the yd. My father was absent from home at 
the time of my arrival, and I was informed 
by the maid that he had driven over to Ross 
with John Cobb, the groom. Shortly after 
my return I heard the wheels of his trap 
in the yard, and, looking out of my win- 
dow, I saw him get out and walk rapidly 
out of the yard, though I was not aware in 
which direction he was going. I then took 
my gun and strolled out in the direction 
of the Boscombe Pool, with the intention 
of visiting the rabbit warren which is upon 
the other side. On my way I saw William 
Crowder, the game-keeper, as he had stated 
in his evidence; but he is mistaken in think- 
ing that I was following my father. I had 
no idea that he was in front of me. When 
about a hundred yards from the pool I heard 
a cry of "Cooeel" which was a usual signal 
between my father and myself. I then hur- 
ried forward, and found him standing by 
the pool. He appeared to be much surprised 
at seeing me and asked me rather roughly 
what I was doing there. A conversation en- 
sued which led to high words and almost to 
blows, for my father was a man of a very 
violent temper. Seeing that his passion was 
becoming ungovernable, I left him and re- 
turned towards Hatherley Farm. I had not 
gone more than 150 yards, however, when 
I heard a hideous outcry behind me, which 
caused me to run back again. I found my 
father expiring upon the ground, with his 
head terribly injured. I dropped my gun 
and held him in my arms, but he almost 
instantly expired. I knelt beside him for 
some minutes, and then made my way to 
Mr. Turner's lodge-keeper, his house being 
the nearest, to ask for assistance. I saw no 
one near my father when I returned, and 
I have no idea how he came by his injuries. 
He was not a popular man, being somewhat 
cold and forbidding in his manners, but he 
had, as far as I know, no active enemies. I 
know nothing further of the matter' 
"The Coroner: Did your father make any 
statement to you before he died? 
"Witness: He mumbled a few words, but I 



163 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 



could only catch some allusion to a rat. 
"The Coroner: What did you understand 
by that? 

"Witness: It conveyed no meaning to me. I 
thought that he was delirious. 
"The Coroner: What was the point upon 
which you and your father had this final 
quarrel? 

"Witness: I should prefer not to answer. 
"The Coroner: I am afraid that I must press 
it. 

"Witness: It is really impossible for me to 
tell you. I can assure you that it has noth- 
ing to do with the sad tragedy which fol- 
lowed. 

"The Coroner: That is for the court to de- 
cide. I need not point out to you that 
your refusal to answer will prejudice your 
case considerably in any future proceedings 
which may arise. 
"Witness: I must still refuse. 
"The Coroner: I understand that the cry of 
'Cooee' was a common signal between you 
and your father? 
"Witness: It was. 

"The Coroner: How was it, then, that he 
uttered it before he saw you, and before he 
even knew that you had returned from Bris- 
tol? 

"Witness (with considerable confusion): I 
do not know. 

"A Juryman: Did you see nothing which 
aroused your suspicions when you returned 
on hearing the cry and found your father 
fatally injured? 
"Witness: Nothing definite. 
"The Coroner: What do you mean? 
"Witness: I was so disturbed and excited 
as I rushed out into the open, that I could 
think of nothing except of my father. Yet I 
have a vague impression that as I ran for- 
ward something lay upon the ground to the 
left of me. It seemed to me to be something 
grey in colour, a coat of some sort, or a 
plaid perhaps. When I rose from my father 
I looked round for it, but it was gone. 
" 'Do you mean that it disappeared before 
you went for help?' 
" 'Yes, it was gone.' 
" 'You cannot say what it was?' 
" 'No, I had a feeling something was there.' 
" 'How far from the body?' 
" 'A dozen yards or so.' 



" 'And how far from the edge of the wood?' 

"'About the same.' 

" 'Then if it was removed it was while you 

were within a dozen yards of it?' 

"'Yes, but with my back towards it.' 

"This concluded the examination of the 

witness." 

"I see," said I as I glanced down the column, "that 
the coroner in his concluding remarks was rather 
severe upon young McCarthy. He calls attention, 
and with reason, to the discrepancy about his fa- 
ther having signalled to him before seeing him, 
also to his refusal to give details of his conversa- 
tion with his father, and his singular account of his 
father's dying words. They are all, as he remarks, 
very much against the son. " 

Holmes laughed softly to himself and stretched 
himself out upon the cushioned seat. "Both you 
and the coroner have been at some pains," said 
he, "to single out the very strongest points in the 
young man's favour. Don't you see that you alter- 
nately give him credit for having too much imagi- 
nation and too little? Too little, if he could not in- 
vent a cause of quarrel which would give him the 
sympathy of the jury; too much, if he evolved from 
his own inner consciousness anything so outre as 
a dying reference to a rat, and the incident of the 
vanishing cloth. No, sir, I shall approach this case 
from the point of view that what this young man 
says is true, and we shall see whither that hypoth- 
esis will lead us. And now here is my pocket Pe- 
trarch, and not another word shall I say of this case 
until we are on the scene of action. We lunch at 
Swindon, and I see that we shall be there in twenty 
minutes." 

It was nearly four o'clock when we at last, af- 
ter passing through the beautiful Stroud Valley, 
and over the broad gleaming Severn, found our- 
selves at the pretty little country-town of Ross. A 
lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking, was 
waiting for us upon the platform. In spite of the 
light brown dustcoat and leather-leggings which 
he wore in deference to his rustic surroundings, I 
had no difficulty in recognising Lestrade, of Scot- 
land Yard. With him we drove to the Hereford 
Arms where a room had already been engaged for 
us. 

"I have ordered a carriage," said Lestrade as we 
sat over a cup of tea. "I knew your energetic na- 
ture, and that you would not be happy until you 
had been on the scene of the crime." 

"It was very nice and complimentary of you," 
Holmes answered. "It is entirely a question of 
barometric pressure." 



164 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 



Lestrade looked startled. "I do not quite fol- 
low," he said. 

"How is the glass? Twenty-nine, I see. No 
wind, and not a cloud in the sky. I have a ease- 
ful of cigarettes here which need smoking, and the 
sofa is very much superior to the usual country ho- 
tel abomination. I do not think that it is probable 
that I shall use the carriage to-night." 

Lestrade laughed indulgently. "You have, no 
doubt, already formed your conclusions from the 
newspapers," he said. "The case is as plain as a 
pikestaff, and the more one goes into it the plainer 
it becomes. Still, of course, one can't refuse a lady, 
and such a very positive one, too. She has heard 
of you, and would have your opinion, though I 
repeatedly told her that there was nothing which 
you could do which I had not already done. Why, 
bless my soul! here is her carriage at the door." 

He had hardly spoken before there rushed into 
the room one of the most lovely young women that 
I have ever seen in my life. Her violet eyes shining, 
her lips parted, a pink flush upon her cheeks, all 
thought of her natural reserve lost in her overpow- 
ering excitement and concern. 

"Oh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes!" she cried, glanc- 
ing from one to the other of us, and finally, with a 
woman's quick intuition, fastening upon my com- 
panion, "I am so glad that you have come. I have 
driven down to tell you so. I know that James 
didn't do it. I know it, and I want you to start 
upon your work knowing it, too. Never let your- 
self doubt upon that point. We have known each 
other since we were little children, and I know his 
faults as no one else does; but he is too tender- 
hearted to hurt a fly. Such a charge is absurd to 
anyone who really knows him. " 

"I hope we may clear him, Miss Turner," said 
Sherlock Holmes. "You may rely upon my doing 
all that I can." 

"But you have read the evidence. You have 
formed some conclusion? Do you not see some 
loophole, some flaw? Do you not yourself think 
that he is innocent?" 

"I think that it is very probable." 

"There, now!" she cried, throwing back her 
head and looking defiantly at Lestrade. "You hear! 
He gives me hopes." 

Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. "I am afraid 
that my colleague has been a little quick in form- 
ing his conclusions," he said. 

"But he is right. Oh! I know that he is right. 
James never did it. And about his quarrel with his 
father, I am sure that the reason why he would not 



speak about it to the coroner was because I was 
concerned in it." 

"In what way?" asked Holmes. 

"It is no time for me to hide anything. James 
and his father had many disagreements about me. 
Mr. McCarthy was very anxious that there should 
be a marriage between us. James and I have al- 
ways loved each other as brother and sister; but of 
course he is young and has seen very little of life 
yet, and — and — well, he naturally did not wish to 
do anything like that yet. So there were quarrels, 
and this, I am sure, was one of them. " 

"And your father?" asked Holmes. "Was he in 
favour of such a union?" 

"No, he was averse to it also. No one but 
Mr. McCarthy was in favour of it." A quick blush 
passed over her fresh young face as Holmes shot 
one of his keen, questioning glances at her. 

"Thank you for this information," said he. 
"May I see your father if I call to-morrow?" 

"I am afraid the doctor won't allow it." 

"The doctor?" 

"Yes, have you not heard? Poor father has 
never been strong for years back, but this has bro- 
ken him down completely. He has taken to his bed, 
and Dr. Willows says that he is a wreck and that his 
nervous system is shattered. Mr. McCarthy was 
the only man alive who had known dad in the old 
days in Victoria." 

"Ha! In Victoria! That is important." 

"Yes, at the mines." 

"Quite so; at the gold-mines, where, as I under- 
stand, Mr. Turner made his money." 

"Yes, certainly." 

"Thank you, Miss Turner. You have been of 
material assistance to me." 

"You will tell me if you have any news to- 
morrow. No doubt you will go to the prison to 
see James. Oh, if you do, Mr. Holmes, do tell him 
that I know him to be innocent." 

"I will, Miss Turner." 

"I must go home now, for dad is very ill, and 
he misses me so if I leave him. Good-bye, and 
God help you in your undertaking." She hurried 
from the room as impulsively as she had entered, 
and we heard the wheels of her carriage rattle off 
down the street. 

"I am ashamed of you, Holmes," said Lestrade 
with dignity after a few minutes' silence. "Why 
should you raise up hopes which you are bound 
to disappoint? I am not over-tender of heart, but I 
call it cruel." 



165 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 



"I think that I see my way to clearing James 
McCarthy" said Holmes. "Have you an order to 
see him in prison?" 

"Yes, but only for you and me." 

"Then I shall reconsider my resolution about 
going out. We have still time to take a train to 
Hereford and see him to-night?" 

"Ample." 

"Then let us do so. Watson, I fear that you will 
find it very slow, but I shall only be away a couple 
of hours." 

I walked down to the station with them, and 
then wandered through the streets of the little 
town, finally returning to the hotel, where I lay 
upon the sofa and tried to interest myself in a 
yellow-backed novel. The puny plot of the story 
was so thin, however, when compared to the deep 
mystery through which we were groping, and I 
found my attention wander so continually from 
the action to the fact, that I at last flung it across the 
room and gave myself up entirely to a considera- 
tion of the events of the day. Supposing that this 
unhappy young man's story were absolutely true, 
then what hellish thing, what absolutely unfore- 
seen and extraordinary calamity could have oc- 
curred between the time when he parted from his 
father, and the moment when, drawn back by his 
screams, he rushed into the glade? It was some- 
thing terrible and deadly. What could it be? Might 
not the nature of the injuries reveal something to 
my medical instincts? I rang the bell and called 
for the weekly county paper, which contained a 
verbatim account of the inquest. In the surgeon's 
deposition it was stated that the posterior third of 
the left parietal bone and the left half of the occip- 
ital bone had been shattered by a heavy blow from 
a blunt weapon. I marked the spot upon my own 
head. Clearly such a blow must have been struck 
from behind. That was to some extent in favour of 
the accused, as when seen quarrelling he was face 
to face with his father. Still, it did not go for very 
much, for the older man might have turned his 
back before the blow fell. Still, it might be worth 
while to call Holmes' attention to it. Then there 
was the peculiar dying reference to a rat. What 
could that mean? It could not be delirium. A man 
dying from a sudden blow does not commonly be- 
come delirious. No, it was more likely to be an 
attempt to explain how he met his fate. But what 
could it indicate? I cudgelled my brains to find 
some possible explanation. And then the incident 
of the grey cloth seen by young McCarthy. If that 
were true the murderer must have dropped some 
part of his dress, presumably his overcoat, in his 



flight, and must have had the hardihood to return 
and to carry it away at the instant when the son 
was kneeling with his back turned not a dozen 
paces off. What a tissue of mysteries and improb- 
abilities the whole thing was! I did not wonder at 
Lestrade's opinion, and yet I had so much faith in 
Sherlock Holmes' insight that I could not lose hope 
as long as every fresh fact seemed to strengthen his 
conviction of young McCarthy's innocence. 

It was late before Sherlock Holmes returned. 
He came back alone, for Lestrade was staying in 
lodgings in the town. 

"The glass still keeps very high," he remarked 
as he sat down. "It is of importance that it should 
not rain before we are able to go over the ground. 
On the other hand, a man should be at his very 
best and keenest for such nice work as that, and I 
did not wish to do it when fagged by a long jour- 
ney. I have seen young McCarthy." 

"And what did you learn from him?" 

"Nothing." 

"Could he throw no light?" 

"None at all. I was inclined to think at one time 
that he knew who had done it and was screen- 
ing him or her, but I am convinced now that he 
is as puzzled as everyone else. He is not a very 
quick-witted youth, though comely to look at and, 
I should think, sound at heart. " 

"I cannot admire his taste," I remarked, "if it is 
indeed a fact that he was averse to a marriage with 
so charming a young lady as this Miss Turner." 

"Ah, thereby hangs a rather painful tale. This 
fellow is madly, insanely, in love with her, but 
some two years ago, when he was only a lad, and 
before he really knew her, for she had been away 
five years at a boarding-school, what does the idiot 
do but get into the clutches of a barmaid in Bristol 
and marry her at a registry office? No one knows a 
word of the matter, but you can imagine how mad- 
dening it must be to him to be upbraided for not 
doing what he would give his very eyes to do, but 
what he knows to be absolutely impossible. It was 
sheer frenzy of this sort which made him throw 
his hands up into the air when his father, at their 
last interview, was goading him on to propose to 
Miss Turner. On the other hand, he had no means 
of supporting himself, and his father, who was by 
all accounts a very hard man, would have thrown 
him over utterly had he known the truth. It was 
with his barmaid wife that he had spent the last 
three days in Bristol, and his father did not know 
where he was. Mark that point. It is of impor- 
tance. Good has come out of evil, however, for the 



166 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 



barmaid, finding from the papers that he is in se- 
rious trouble and likely to be hanged, has thrown 
him over utterly and has written to him to say that 
she has a husband already in the Bermuda Dock- 
yard, so that there is really no tie between them. 
I think that that bit of news has consoled young 
McCarthy for all that he has suffered." 

"But if he is innocent, who has done it?" 

"Ah! who? I would call your attention very 
particularly to two points. One is that the mur- 
dered man had an appointment with someone at 
the pool, and that the someone could not have 
been his son, for his son was away, and he did not 
know when he would return. The second is that 
the murdered man was heard to cry 'Cooee!' be- 
fore he knew that his son had returned. Those are 
the crucial points upon which the case depends. 
And now let us talk about George Meredith, if you 
please, and we shall leave all minor matters until 
to-morrow. " 

There was no rain, as Holmes had foretold, 
and the morning broke bright and cloudless. At 
nine o'clock Lestrade called for us with the car- 
riage, and we set off for Hatherley Farm and the 
Boscombe Pool. 

"There is serious news this morning," Lestrade 
observed. "It is said that Mr. Turner, of the Hall, is 
so ill that his life is despaired of. " 

"An elderly man, I presume?" said Holmes. 

"About sixty; but his constitution has been 
shattered by his life abroad, and he has been in 
failing health for some time. This business has had 
a very bad effect upon him. He was an old friend 
of McCarthy's, and, I may add, a great benefactor 
to him, for I have learned that he gave him Hather- 
ley Farm rent free." 

"Indeed! That is interesting," said Holmes. 

"Oh, yes! In a hundred other ways he has 
helped him. Everybody about here speaks of his 
kindness to him." 

"Really! Does it not strike you as a little singu- 
lar that this McCarthy, who appears to have had 
little of his own, and to have been under such 
obligations to Turner, should still talk of marry- 
ing his son to Turner's daughter, who is, presum- 
ably, heiress to the estate, and that in such a very 
cocksure manner, as if it were merely a case of a 
proposal and all else would follow? It is the more 
strange, since we know that Turner himself was 
averse to the idea. The daughter told us as much. 
Do you not deduce something from that?" 

"We have got to the deductions and the infer- 
ences," said Lestrade, winking at me. "I find it 



hard enough to tackle facts, Holmes, without fly- 
ing away after theories and fancies." 

"You are right," said Holmes demurely; "you 
do find it very hard to tackle the facts." 

"Anyhow, I have grasped one fact which you 
seem to find it difficult to get hold of," replied 
Lestrade with some warmth. 

"And that is—" 

"That McCarthy senior met his death from Mc- 
Carthy junior and that all theories to the contrary 
are the merest moonshine." 

"Well, moonshine is a brighter thing than fog," 
said Holmes, laughing. "But I am very much mis- 
taken if this is not Hatherley Farm upon the left. " 

"Yes, that is it." It was a widespread, 
comfortable-looking building, two-storied, slate- 
roofed, with great yellow blotches of lichen upon 
the grey walls. The drawn blinds and the smoke- 
less chimneys, however, gave it a stricken look, as 
though the weight of this horror still lay heavy 
upon it. We called at the door, when the maid, at 
Holmes' request, showed us the boots which her 
master wore at the time of his death, and also a 
pair of the son's, though not the pair which he had 
then had. Having measured these very carefully 
from seven or eight different points, Holmes de- 
sired to be led to the court-yard, from which we all 
followed the winding track which led to Boscombe 
Pool. 

Sherlock Holmes was transformed when he 
was hot upon such a scent as this. Men who 
had only known the quiet thinker and logician of 
Baker Street would have failed to recognise him. 
His face flushed and darkened. His brows were 
drawn into two hard black lines, while his eyes 
shone out from beneath them with a steely glit- 
ter. His face was bent downward, his shoulders 
bowed, his lips compressed, and the veins stood 
out like whipcord in his long, sinewy neck. His 
nostrils seemed to dilate with a purely animal lust 
for the chase, and his mind was so absolutely con- 
centrated upon the matter before him that a ques- 
tion or remark fell unheeded upon his ears, or, at 
the most, only provoked a quick, impatient snarl in 
reply. Swiftly and silently he made his way along 
the track which ran through the meadows, and so 
by way of the woods to the Boscombe Pool. It 
was damp, marshy ground, as is all that district, 
and there were marks of many feet, both upon the 
path and amid the short grass which bounded it 
on either side. Sometimes Holmes would hurry 
on, sometimes stop dead, and once he made quite 
a little detour into the meadow. Lestrade and I 



167 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 



walked behind him, the detective indifferent and 
contemptuous, while I watched my friend with the 
interest which sprang from the conviction that ev- 
ery one of his actions was directed towards a defi- 
nite end. 

The Boscombe Pool, which is a little reed-girt 
sheet of water some fifty yards across, is situ- 
ated at the boundary between the Hatherley Farm 
and the private park of the wealthy Mr. Turner. 
Above the woods which lined it upon the farther 
side we could see the red, jutting pinnacles which 
marked the site of the rich landowner's dwelling. 
On the Hatherley side of the pool the woods grew 
very thick, and there was a narrow belt of sodden 
grass twenty paces across between the edge of the 
trees and the reeds which lined the lake. Lestrade 
showed us the exact spot at which the body had 
been found, and, indeed, so moist was the ground, 
that I could plainly see the traces which had been 
left by the fall of the stricken man. To Holmes, 
as I could see by his eager face and peering eyes, 
very many other things were to be read upon the 
trampled grass. He ran round, like a dog who is 
picking up a scent, and then turned upon my com- 
panion. 

"What did you go into the pool for?" he asked. 

"I fished about with a rake. I thought there 
might be some weapon or other trace. But how on 
earth—" 

"Oh, tut, tut! I have no time! That left foot of 
yours with its inward twist is all over the place. A 
mole could trace it, and there it vanishes among 
the reeds. Oh, how simple it would all have been 
had I been here before they came like a herd of 
buffalo and wallowed all over it. Here is where 
the party with the lodge-keeper came, and they 
have covered all tracks for six or eight feet round 
the body. But here are three separate tracks of the 
same feet." He drew out a lens and lay down upon 
his waterproof to have a better view, talking all 
the time rather to himself than to us. "These are 
young McCarthy's feet. Twice he was walking, and 
once he ran swiftly, so that the soles are deeply 
marked and the heels hardly visible. That bears 
out his story. He ran when he saw his father on 
the ground. Then here are the father's feet as he 
paced up and down. What is this, then? It is the 
butt-end of the gun as the son stood listening. And 
this? Ha, ha! What have we here? Tiptoes! tiptoes! 
Square, too, quite unusual boots! They come, they 
go, they come again — of course that was for the 
cloak. Now where did they come from?" He ran 
up and down, sometimes losing, sometimes find- 
ing the track until we were well within the edge of 



the wood and under the shadow of a great beech, 
the largest tree in the neighbourhood. Holmes 
traced his way to the farther side of this and lay 
down once more upon his face with a little cry of 
satisfaction. For a long time he remained there, 
turning over the leaves and dried sticks, gathering 
up what seemed to me to be dust into an envelope 
and examining with his lens not only the ground 
but even the bark of the tree as far as he could 
reach. A jagged stone was lying among the moss, 
and this also he carefully examined and retained. 
Then he followed a pathway through the wood un- 
til he came to the highroad, where all traces were 
lost. 

"It has been a case of considerable interest," 
he remarked, returning to his natural manner. "I 
fancy that this grey house on the right must be the 
lodge. I think that I will go in and have a word 
with Moran, and perhaps write a little note. Hav- 
ing done that, we may drive back to our luncheon. 
You may walk to the cab, and I shall be with you 
presently." 

It was about ten minutes before we regained 
our cab and drove back into Ross, Holmes still car- 
rying with him the stone which he had picked up 
in the wood. 

"This may interest you, Lestrade," he re- 
marked, holding it out. "The murder was done 
with it." 

"I see no marks." 

"There are none." 

"How do you know, then?" 

"The grass was growing under it. It had only 
lain there a few days. There was no sign of a place 
whence it had been taken. It corresponds with the 
injuries. There is no sign of any other weapon." 

"And the murderer?" 

"Is a tall man, left-handed, limps with the right 
leg, wears thick-soled shooting-boots and a grey 
cloak, smokes Indian cigars, uses a cigar-holder, 
and carries a blunt pen-knife in his pocket. There 
are several other indications, but these may be 
enough to aid us in our search." 

Lestrade laughed. "I am afraid that I am still a 
sceptic," he said. "Theories are all very well, but 
we have to deal with a hard-headed British jury" 

"Nous verrons," answered Holmes calmly. 
"You work your own method, and I shall work 
mine. I shall be busy this afternoon, and shall 
probably return to London by the evening train." 

"And leave your case unfinished?" 

"No, finished." 

"But the mystery?" 

"It is solved." 



168 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 



"Who was the criminal, then?" 

"The gentleman I describe." 

"But who is he?" 

"Surely it would not be difficult to find out. 
This is not such a populous neighbourhood." 

Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. "I am a prac- 
tical man," he said, "and I really cannot undertake 
to go about the country looking for a left-handed 
gentleman with a game leg. I should become the 
laughing-stock of Scotland Yard." 

"All right," said Holmes quietly. "I have given 
you the chance. Here are your lodgings. Good- 
bye. I shall drop you a line before I leave." 

Having left Lestrade at his rooms, we drove to 
our hotel, where we found lunch upon the table. 
Holmes was silent and buried in thought with a 
pained expression upon his face, as one who finds 
himself in a perplexing position. 

"Look here, Watson," he said when the cloth 
was cleared "just sit down in this chair and let me 
preach to you for a little. I don't know quite what 
to do, and I should value your advice. Light a cigar 
and let me expound." 

"Pray do so." 

"Well, now, in considering this case there 
are two points about young McCarthy's narrative 
which struck us both instantly, although they im- 
pressed me in his favour and you against him. One 
was the fact that his father should, according to his 
account, cry 'Cooee!' before seeing him. The other 
was his singular dying reference to a rat. He mum- 
bled several words, you understand, but that was 
all that caught the son's ear. Now from this double 
point our research must commence, and we will 
begin it by presuming that what the lad says is ab- 
solutely true." 

"What of this 'Cooee!' then?" 

"Well, obviously it could not have been meant 
for the son. The son, as far as he knew, was in Bris- 
tol. It was mere chance that he was within earshot. 
The 'Cooee!' was meant to attract the attention 
of whoever it was that he had the appointment 
with. But 'Cooee' is a distinctly Australian cry, and 
one which is used between Australians. There is 
a strong presumption that the person whom Mc- 
Carthy expected to meet him at Boscombe Pool 
was someone who had been in Australia." 

"What of the rat, then?" 

Sherlock Holmes took a folded paper from his 
pocket and flattened it out on the table. "This is a 
map of the Colony of Victoria," he said. "I wired 



to Bristol for it last night." He put his hand over 
part of the map. "What do you read?" 

"ARAT," I read. 

"And now?" He raised his hand. 

"BALLARAT" 

"Quite so. That was the word the man uttered, 
and of which his son only caught the last two syl- 
lables. He was trying to utter the name of his mur- 
derer. So and so, of Ballarat." 

"It is wonderful!" I exclaimed. 

"It is obvious. And now, you see, I had nar- 
rowed the field down considerably. The possession 
of a grey garment was a third point which, grant- 
ing the son's statement to be correct, was a cer- 
tainty. We have come now out of mere vagueness 
to the definite conception of an Australian from 
Ballarat with a grey cloak." 

"Certainly." 

"And one who was at home in the district, for 
the pool can only be approached by the farm or by 
the estate, where strangers could hardly wander. " 

"Quite so." 

"Then comes our expedition of to-day. By an 
examination of the ground I gained the trifling de- 
tails which I gave to that imbecile Lestrade, as to 
the personality of the criminal." 

"But how did you gain them?" 

"You know my method. It is founded upon the 
observation of trifles." 

"His height I know that you might roughly 
judge from the length of his stride. His boots, too, 
might be told from their traces." 

"Yes, they were peculiar boots." 

"But his lameness?" 

"The impression of his right foot was always 
less distinct than his left. He put less weight upon 
it. Why? Because he limped — he was lame." 

"But his left-handedness." 

"You were yourself struck by the nature of the 
injury as recorded by the surgeon at the inquest. 
The blow was struck from immediately behind, 
and yet was upon the left side. Now, how can 
that be unless it were by a left-handed man? He 
had stood behind that tree during the interview 
between the father and son. He had even smoked 
there. I found the ash of a cigar, which my spe- 
cial knowledge of tobacco ashes enables me to pro- 
nounce as an Indian cigar. I have, as you know, 
devoted some attention to this, and written a little 
monograph on the ashes of 140 different varieties 
of pipe, cigar, and cigarette tobacco. Having found 
the ash, I then looked round and discovered the 
stump among the moss where he had tossed it. It 



169 



The Boscombe Valley Mystery 



was an Indian cigar, of the variety which are rolled 
in Rotterdam." 

"And the cigar-holder?" 

"I could see that the end had not been in his 
mouth. Therefore he used a holder. The tip had 
been cut off, not bitten off, but the cut was not a 
clean one, so I deduced a blunt pen-knife." 

"Holmes," I said, "you have drawn a net round 
this man from which he cannot escape, and you 
have saved an innocent human life as truly as if 
you had cut the cord which was hanging him. I 
see the direction in which all this points. The cul- 
prit is — " 

"Mr. John Turner," cried the hotel waiter, open- 
ing the door of our sitting-room, and ushering in 
a visitor. 

The man who entered was a strange and im- 
pressive figure. His slow, limping step and bowed 
shoulders gave the appearance of decrepitude, and 
yet his hard, deep-lined, craggy features, and his 
enormous limbs showed that he was possessed of 
unusual strength of body and of character. His tan- 
gled beard, grizzled hair, and outstanding, droop- 
ing eyebrows combined to give an air of dignity 
and power to his appearance, but his face was of 
an ashen white, while his lips and the corners of 
his nostrils were tinged with a shade of blue. It 
was clear to me at a glance that he was in the grip 
of some deadly and chronic disease. 

"Pray sit down on the sofa," said Holmes gen- 
tly. "You had my note?" 

"Yes, the lodge-keeper brought it up. You said 
that you wished to see me here to avoid scandal." 

"I thought people would talk if I went to the 
Hall." 

"And why did you wish to see me?" He looked 
across at my companion with despair in his weary 
eyes, as though his question was already an- 
swered. 

"Yes," said Holmes, answering the look rather 
than the words. "It is so. I know all about Mc- 
Carthy." 

The old man sank his face in his hands. "God 
help me!" he cried. "But I would not have let the 
young man come to harm. I give you my word that 
I would have spoken out if it went against him at 
the Assizes." 

"I am glad to hear you say so," said Holmes 
gravely. 

"I would have spoken now had it not been for 
my dear girl. It would break her heart — it will 
break her heart when she hears that I am arrested." 



"It may not come to that," said Holmes. 

"What?" 

"I am no official agent. I understand that it was 
your daughter who required my presence here, 
and I am acting in her interests. Young McCarthy 
must be got off, however." 

"I am a dying man," said old Turner. "I have 
had diabetes for years. My doctor says it is a ques- 
tion whether I shall live a month. Yet I would 
rather die under my own roof than in a jail." 

Holmes rose and sat down at the table with his 
pen in his hand and a bundle of paper before him. 
"Just tell us the truth," he said. "I shall jot down 
the facts. You will sign it, and Watson here can 
witness it. Then I could produce your confession 
at the last extremity to save young McCarthy. I 
promise you that I shall not use it unless it is ab- 
solutely needed." 

"It's as well," said the old man; "it's a question 
whether I shall live to the Assizes, so it matters 
little to me, but I should wish to spare Alice the 
shock. And now I will make the thing clear to 
you; it has been a long time in the acting, but will 
not take me long to tell. 

"You didn't know this dead man, McCarthy. 
He was a devil incarnate. I tell you that. God keep 
you out of the clutches of such a man as he. His 
grip has been upon me these twenty years, and he 
has blasted my life. I'll tell you first how I came to 
be in his power. 

"It was in the early '6o's at the diggings. I 
was a young chap then, hot-blooded and reckless, 
ready to turn my hand at anything; I got among 
bad companions, took to drink, had no luck with 
my claim, took to the bush, and in a word became 
what you would call over here a highway robber. 
There were six of us, and we had a wild, free life 
of it, sticking up a station from time to time, or 
stopping the wagons on the road to the diggings. 
Black Jack of Ballarat was the name I went under, 
and our party is still remembered in the colony as 
the Ballarat Gang. 

"One day a gold convoy came down from Bal- 
larat to Melbourne, and we lay in wait for it and 
attacked it. There were six troopers and six of us, 
so it was a close thing, but we emptied four of their 
saddles at the first volley. Three of our boys were 
killed, however, before we got the swag. I put my 
pistol to the head of the wagon-driver, who was 
this very man McCarthy. I wish to the Lord that I 
had shot him then, but I spared him, though I saw 
his wicked little eyes fixed on my face, as though 
to remember every feature. We got away with the 



170 



gold, became wealthy men, and made our way 
over to England without being suspected. There 
I parted from my old pals and determined to set- 
tle down to a quiet and respectable life. I bought 
this estate, which chanced to be in the market, and 
I set myself to do a little good with my money, to 
make up for the way in which I had earned it. I 
married, too, and though my wife died young she 
left me my dear little Alice. Even when she was 
just a baby her wee hand seemed to lead me down 
the right path as nothing else had ever done. In 
a word, I turned over a new leaf and did my best 
to make up for the past. All was going well when 
McCarthy laid his grip upon me. 

"I had gone up to town about an investment, 
and I met him in Regent Street with hardly a coat 
to his back or a boot to his foot. 

" 'Here we are, Jack,' says he, touching me on 
the arm; 'we'll be as good as a family to you. 
There's two of us, me and my son, and you can 
have the keeping of us. If you don't — it's a fine, 
law-abiding country is England, and there's al- 
ways a policeman within hail.' 

"Well, down they came to the west country, 
there was no shaking them off, and there they have 
lived rent free on my best land ever since. There 
was no rest for me, no peace, no forgetfulness; turn 
where I would, there was his cunning, grinning 
face at my elbow. It grew worse as Alice grew up, 
for he soon saw I was more afraid of her knowing 
my past than of the police. Whatever he wanted he 
must have, and whatever it was I gave him with- 
out question, land, money, houses, until at last he 
asked a thing which I could not give. He asked for 
Alice. 

"His son, you see, had grown up, and so had 
my girl, and as I was known to be in weak health, 
it seemed a fine stroke to him that his lad should 
step into the whole property. But there I was 
firm. I would not have his cursed stock mixed 
with mine; not that I had any dislike to the lad, 
but his blood was in him, and that was enough. I 
stood firm. McCarthy threatened. I braved him to 
do his worst. We were to meet at the pool midway 
between our houses to talk it over. 

"When I went down there I found him talk- 
ing with his son, so I smoked a cigar and waited 
behind a tree until he should be alone. But as I 
listened to his talk all that was black and bitter in 
me seemed to come uppermost. He was urging 
his son to marry my daughter with as little regard 
for what she might think as if she were a slut from 



off the streets. It drove me mad to think that I and 
all that I held most dear should be in the power of 
such a man as this. Could I not snap the bond? I 
was already a dying and a desperate man. Though 
clear of mind and fairly strong of limb, I knew that 
my own fate was sealed. But my memory and my 
girl! Both could be saved if I could but silence that 
foul tongue. I did it, Mr. Holmes. I would do it 
again. Deeply as I have sinned, I have led a life of 
martyrdom to atone for it. But that my girl should 
be entangled in the same meshes which held me 
was more than I could suffer. I struck him down 
with no more compunction than if he had been 
some foul and venomous beast. His cry brought 
back his son; but I had gained the cover of the 
wood, though I was forced to go back to fetch the 
cloak which I had dropped in my flight. That is 
the true story, gentlemen, of all that occurred." 

"Well, it is not for me to judge you," said 
Holmes as the old man signed the statement which 
had been drawn out. "I pray that we may never be 
exposed to such a temptation." 

"I pray not, sir. And what do you intend to 
do?" 

"In view of your health, nothing. You are 
yourself aware that you will soon have to answer 
for your deed at a higher court than the Assizes. 
I will keep your confession, and if McCarthy is 
condemned I shall be forced to use it. If not, it 
shall never be seen by mortal eye; and your secret, 
whether you be alive or dead, shall be safe with 
us." 

"Farewell, then," said the old man solemnly. 
"Your own deathbeds, when they come, will be the 
easier for the thought of the peace which you have 
given to mine." Tottering and shaking in all his gi- 
ant frame, he stumbled slowly from the room. 

"God help us!" said Holmes after a long si- 
lence. "Why does fate play such tricks with poor, 
helpless worms? I never hear of such a case as 
this that I do not think of Baxter 's words, and say, 
'There, but for the grace of God, goes Sherlock 
Holmes.'" 

James McCarthy was acquitted at the Assizes 
on the strength of a number of objections which 
had been drawn out by Holmes and submitted 
to the defending counsel. Old Turner lived for 
seven months after our interview, but he is now 
dead; and there is every prospect that the son and 
daughter may come to live happily together in ig- 
norance of the black cloud which rests upon their 
past. 



The Five Orange Pips 



The Five Orange Pips 




hen I glance over my notes and 
records of the Sherlock Holmes cases 
between the years '82 and '90, I 
am faced by so many which present 
strange and interesting features that it is no easy 
matter to know which to choose and which to 
leave. Some, however, have already gained public- 
ity through the papers, and others have not offered 
a field for those peculiar qualities which my friend 
possessed in so high a degree, and which it is the 
object of these papers to illustrate. Some, too, have 
baffled his analytical skill, and would be, as narra- 
tives, beginnings without an ending, while others 
have been but partially cleared up, and have their 
explanations founded rather upon conjecture and 
surmise than on that absolute logical proof which 
was so dear to him. There is, however, one of these 
last which was so remarkable in its details and so 
startling in its results that I am tempted to give 
some account of it in spite of the fact that there 
are points in connection with it which never have 
been, and probably never will be, entirely cleared 
up. 

The year '87 furnished us with a long series 
of cases of greater or less interest, of which I re- 
tain the records. Among my headings under this 
one twelve months I find an account of the adven- 
ture of the Paradol Chamber, of the Amateur Men- 
dicant Society, who held a luxurious club in the 
lower vault of a furniture warehouse, of the facts 
connected with the loss of the British barque "So- 
phy Anderson", of the singular adventures of the 
Grice Patersons in the island of Uffa, and finally 
of the Camberwell poisoning case. In the latter, as 
may be remembered, Sherlock Holmes was able, 
by winding up the dead man's watch, to prove 
that it had been wound up two hours before, and 
that therefore the deceased had gone to bed within 
that time — a deduction which was of the greatest 
importance in clearing up the case. All these I may 
sketch out at some future date, but none of them 
present such singular features as the strange train 
of circumstances which I have now taken up my 
pen to describe. 

It was in the latter days of September, and the 
equinoctial gales had set in with exceptional vi- 
olence. All day the wind had screamed and the 
rain had beaten against the windows, so that even 
here in the heart of great, hand-made London we 
were forced to raise our minds for the instant from 
the routine of life and to recognise the presence 
of those great elemental forces which shriek at 
mankind through the bars of his civilisation, like 
untamed beasts in a cage. As evening drew in, 
the storm grew higher and louder, and the wind 



cried and sobbed like a child in the chimney. Sher- 
lock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the fire- 
place cross-indexing his records of crime, while I 
at the other was deep in one of Clark Russell's fine 
sea-stories until the howl of the gale from without 
seemed to blend with the text, and the splash of 
the rain to lengthen out into the long swash of the 
sea waves. My wife was on a visit to her mother's, 
and for a few days I was a dweller once more in 
my old quarters at Baker Street. 

"Why," said I, glancing up at my companion, 
"that was surely the bell. Who could come to- 
night? Some friend of yours, perhaps?" 

"Except yourself I have none," he answered. "I 
do not encourage visitors." 
"A client, then?" 

"If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would 
bring a man out on such a day and at such an hour. 
But I take it that it is more likely to be some crony 
of the landlady's." 

Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture, 
however, for there came a step in the passage and a 
tapping at the door. He stretched out his long arm 
to turn the lamp away from himself and towards 
the vacant chair upon which a newcomer must sit. 

"Come in!" said he. 

The man who entered was young, some two- 
and-twenty at the outside, well-groomed and 
trimly clad, with something of refinement and 
delicacy in his bearing. The streaming umbrella 
which he held in his hand, and his long shin- 
ing waterproof told of the fierce weather through 
which he had come. He looked about him anx- 
iously in the glare of the lamp, and I could see that 
his face was pale and his eyes heavy, like those of 
a man who is weighed down with some great anx- 
iety. 

"I owe you an apology," he said, raising his 
golden pince-nez to his eyes. "I trust that I am not 
intruding. I fear that I have brought some traces of 
the storm and rain into your snug chamber." 

"Give me your coat and umbrella," said 
Holmes. "They may rest here on the hook and 
will be dry presently. You have come up from the 
south-west, I see." 

"Yes, from Horsham." 

"That clay and chalk mixture which I see upon 
your toe caps is quite distinctive." 

"I have come for advice." 
"That is easily got." 
"And help." 
"That is not always so easy." 



175 



The Five Orange Pips 



"I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes. I heard 
from Major Prendergast how you saved him in the 
Tankerville Club scandal." 

"Ah, of course. He was wrongfully accused of 
cheating at cards." 

"He said that you could solve anything." 

"He said too much." 

"That you are never beaten." 

"I have been beaten four times — three times by 
men, and once by a woman." 

"But what is that compared with the number 
of your successes?" 

"It is true that I have been generally success- 
ful." 

"Then you may be so with me." 

"I beg that you will draw your chair up to the 
fire and favour me with some details as to your 
case." 

"It is no ordinary one." 

"None of those which come to me are. I am the 
last court of appeal." 

"And yet I question, sir, whether, in all your 
experience, you have ever listened to a more mys- 
terious and inexplicable chain of events than those 
which have happened in my own family. " 

"You fill me with interest," said Holmes. "Pray 
give us the essential facts from the commence- 
ment, and I can afterwards question you as to 
those details which seem to me to be most impor- 
tant." 

The young man pulled his chair up and pushed 
his wet feet out towards the blaze. 

"My name," said he, "is John Openshaw, but 
my own affairs have, as far as I can understand, 
little to do with this awful business. It is a heredi- 
tary matter; so in order to give you an idea of the 
facts, I must go back to the commencement of the 
affair. 

"You must know that my grandfather had two 
sons — my uncle Elias and my father Joseph. My 
father had a small factory at Coventry, which he 
enlarged at the time of the invention of bicycling. 
He was a patentee of the Openshaw unbreakable 
tire, and his business met with such success that he 
was able to sell it and to retire upon a handsome 
competence. 

"My uncle Elias emigrated to America when he 
was a young man and became a planter in Florida, 
where he was reported to have done very well. At 
the time of the war he fought in Jackson's army, 
and afterwards under Hood, where he rose to be 



a colonel. When Lee laid down his arms my uncle 
returned to his plantation, where he remained for 
three or four years. About 1869 or 1870 he came 
back to Europe and took a small estate in Sussex, 
near Horsham. He had made a very considerable 
fortune in the States, and his reason for leaving 
them was his aversion to the negroes, and his dis- 
like of the Republican policy in extending the fran- 
chise to them. He was a singular man, fierce and 
quick-tempered, very foul-mouthed when he was 
angry, and of a most retiring disposition. During 
all the years that he lived at Horsham, I doubt 
if ever he set foot in the town. He had a gar- 
den and two or three fields round his house, and 
there he would take his exercise, though very often 
for weeks on end he would never leave his room. 
He drank a great deal of brandy and smoked very 
heavily, but he would see no society and did not 
want any friends, not even his own brother. 

"He didn't mind me; in fact, he took a fancy 
to me, for at the time when he saw me first I was 
a youngster of twelve or so. This would be in the 
year 1878, after he had been eight or nine years 
in England. He begged my father to let me live 
with him and he was very kind to me in his way. 
When he was sober he used to be fond of play- 
ing backgammon and draughts with me, and he 
would make me his representative both with the 
servants and with the tradespeople, so that by the 
time that I was sixteen I was quite master of the 
house. I kept all the keys and could go where I 
liked and do what I liked, so long as I did not dis- 
turb him in his privacy. There was one singular 
exception, however, for he had a single room, a 
lumber-room up among the attics, which was in- 
variably locked, and which he would never permit 
either me or anyone else to enter. With a boy's cu- 
riosity I have peeped through the keyhole, but I 
was never able to see more than such a collection 
of old trunks and bundles as would be expected in 
such a room. 

"One day — it was in March, 1883 — a letter with 
a foreign stamp lay upon the table in front of the 
colonel's plate. It was not a common thing for him 
to receive letters, for his bills were all paid in ready 
money, and he had no friends of any sort. 'From 
India!' said he as he took it up, 'Pondicherry post- 
mark! What can this be?' Opening it hurriedly, out 
there jumped five little dried orange pips, which 
pattered down upon his plate. I began to laugh 
at this, but the laugh was struck from my lips at 
the sight of his face. His lip had fallen, his eyes 
were protruding, his skin the colour of putty, and 
he glared at the envelope which he still held in his 



176 



The Five Orange Pips 



trembling hand, 'K. K. K.!' he shrieked, and then, 
'My God, my God, my sins have overtaken me!' 

" 'What is it, uncle?' I cried. 

" 'Death,' said he, and rising from the table he 
retired to his room, leaving me palpitating with 
horror. I took up the envelope and saw scrawled 
in red ink upon the inner flap, just above the gum, 
the letter K three times repeated. There was noth- 
ing else save the five dried pips. What could be 
the reason of his overpowering terror? I left the 
breakfast-table, and as I ascended the stair I met 
him coming down with an old rusty key, which 
must have belonged to the attic, in one hand, and 
a small brass box, like a cashbox, in the other. 

" 'They may do what they like, but I'll check- 
mate them still,' said he with an oath. 'Tell Mary 
that I shall want a fire in my room to-day, and send 
down to Fordham, the Horsham lawyer.' 

"I did as he ordered, and when the lawyer ar- 
rived I was asked to step up to the room. The fire 
was burning brightly, and in the grate there was 
a mass of black, fluffy ashes, as of burned paper, 
while the brass box stood open and empty beside 
it. As I glanced at the box I noticed, with a start, 
that upon the lid was printed the treble K which I 
had read in the morning upon the envelope. 

" T wish you, John,' said my uncle, 'to witness 
my will. I leave my estate, with all its advantages 
and all its disadvantages, to my brother, your fa- 
ther, whence it will, no doubt, descend to you. If 
you can enjoy it in peace, well and good! If you 
find you cannot, take my advice, my boy, and leave 
it to your deadliest enemy. I am sorry to give you 
such a two-edged thing, but I can't say what turn 
things are going to take. Kindly sign the paper 
where Mr. Fordham shows you.' 

"I signed the paper as directed, and the lawyer 
took it away with him. The singular incident 
made, as you may think, the deepest impression 
upon me, and I pondered over it and turned it ev- 
ery way in my mind without being able to make 
anything of it. Yet I could not shake off the vague 
feeling of dread which it left behind, though the 
sensation grew less keen as the weeks passed and 
nothing happened to disturb the usual routine of 
our lives. I could see a change in my uncle, how- 
ever. He drank more than ever, and he was less 
inclined for any sort of society. Most of his time 
he would spend in his room, with the door locked 
upon the inside, but sometimes he would emerge 
in a sort of drunken frenzy and would burst out 
of the house and tear about the garden with a 
revolver in his hand, screaming out that he was 
afraid of no man, and that he was not to be cooped 



up, like a sheep in a pen, by man or devil. When 
these hot fits were over, however, he would rush 
tumultuously in at the door and lock and bar it 
behind him, like a man who can brazen it out no 
longer against the terror which lies at the roots of 
his soul. At such times I have seen his face, even 
on a cold day, glisten with moisture, as though it 
were new raised from a basin. 

"Well, to come to an end of the matter, Mr. 
Holmes, and not to abuse your patience, there 
came a night when he made one of those drunken 
sallies from which he never came back. We found 
him, when we went to search for him, face down- 
ward in a little green-scummed pool, which lay 
at the foot of the garden. There was no sign of 
any violence, and the water was but two feet deep, 
so that the jury, having regard to his known ec- 
centricity, brought in a verdict of 'suicide.' But I, 
who knew how he winced from the very thought 
of death, had much ado to persuade myself that 
he had gone out of his way to meet it. The matter 
passed, however, and my father entered into pos- 
session of the estate, and of some £14,000, which 
lay to his credit at the bank." 

"One moment," Holmes interposed, "your 
statement is, I foresee, one of the most remarkable 
to which I have ever listened. Let me have the date 
of the reception by your uncle of the letter, and the 
date of his supposed suicide." 

"The letter arrived on March 10, 1883. His 
death was seven weeks later, upon the night of 
May 2nd." 

"Thank you. Pray proceed." 

"When my father took over the Horsham prop- 
erty, he, at my request, made a careful examina- 
tion of the attic, which had been always locked 
up. We found the brass box there, although its 
contents had been destroyed. On the inside of the 
cover was a paper label, with the initials of K. K. 
K. repeated upon it, and 'Letters, memoranda, re- 
ceipts, and a register' written beneath. These, we 
presume, indicated the nature of the papers which 
had been destroyed by Colonel Openshaw. For the 
rest, there was nothing of much importance in the 
attic save a great many scattered papers and note- 
books bearing upon my uncle's life in America. 
Some of them were of the war time and showed 
that he had done his duty well and had borne the 
repute of a brave soldier. Others were of a date 
during the reconstruction of the Southern states, 
and were mostly concerned with politics, for he 
had evidently taken a strong part in opposing the 
carpet-bag politicians who had been sent down 
from the North. 



177 



The Five Orange Pips 



"Well, it was the beginning of '84 when my fa- 
ther came to live at Horsham, and all went as well 
as possible with us until the January of '85. On 
the fourth day after the new year I heard my fa- 
ther give a sharp cry of surprise as we sat together 
at the breakfast-table. There he was, sitting with a 
newly opened envelope in one hand and five dried 
orange pips in the outstretched palm of the other 
one. He had always laughed at what he called 
my cock-and-bull story about the colonel, but he 
looked very scared and puzzled now that the same 
thing had come upon himself. 

" 'Why, what on earth does this mean, John?' 
he stammered. 

"My heart had turned to lead. 'It is K. K. K.,' 
said I. 

"He looked inside the envelope. 'So it is,' he 
cried. 'Here are the very letters. But what is this 
written above them?' 

" 'Put the papers on the sundial,' I read, peep- 
ing over his shoulder. 

" 'What papers? What sundial?' he asked. 

'" 'The sundial in the garden. There is no other, 
said I; 'but the papers must be those that are de- 
stroyed.' 

" 'Pooh!' said he, gripping hard at his courage. 
'We are in a civilised land here, and we can't have 
tomfoolery of this kind. Where does the thing 
come from?' 

" 'From Dundee,' I answered, glancing at the 
postmark. 

" 'Some preposterous practical joke,' said he. 
'What have I to do with sundials and papers? I 
shall take no notice of such nonsense.' 

" T should certainly speak to the police,' I said. 

" 'And be laughed at for my pains. Nothing of 
the sort.' 

" 'Then let me do so?' 

" 'No, I forbid you. I won't have a fuss made 
about such nonsense.' 

"It was in vain to argue with him, for he was a 
very obstinate man. I went about, however, with a 
heart which was full of forebodings. 

"On the third day after the coming of the letter 
my father went from home to visit an old friend 
of his, Major Freebody, who is in command of one 
of the forts upon Portsdown Hill. I was glad that 
he should go, for it seemed to me that he was far- 
ther from danger when he was away from home. 
In that, however, I was in error. Upon the sec- 
ond day of his absence I received a telegram from 



the major, imploring me to come at once. My 
father had fallen over one of the deep chalk-pits 
which abound in the neighbourhood, and was ly- 
ing senseless, with a shattered skull. I hurried 
to him, but he passed away without having ever 
recovered his consciousness. He had, as it ap- 
pears, been returning from Fareham in the twi- 
light, and as the country was unknown to him, 
and the chalk-pit unfenced, the jury had no hes- 
itation in bringing in a verdict of 'death from ac- 
cidental causes.' Carefully as I examined every 
fact connected with his death, I was unable to find 
anything which could suggest the idea of murder. 
There were no signs of violence, no footmarks, no 
robbery, no record of strangers having been seen 
upon the roads. And yet I need not tell you that 
my mind was far from at ease, and that I was well- 
nigh certain that some foul plot had been woven 
round him. 

"In this sinister way I came into my inheritance. 
You will ask me why I did not dispose of it? I an- 
swer, because I was well convinced that our trou- 
bles were in some way dependent upon an inci- 
dent in my uncle's life, and that the danger would 
be as pressing in one house as in another. 

"It was in January, '85, that my poor father 
met his end, and two years and eight months have 
elapsed since then. During that time I have lived 
happily at Horsham, and I had begun to hope that 
this curse had passed away from the family, and 
that it had ended with the last generation. I had 
begun to take comfort too soon, however; yester- 
day morning the blow fell in the very shape in 
which it had come upon my father." 

The young man took from his waistcoat a 
crumpled envelope, and turning to the table he 
shook out upon it five little dried orange pips. 

"This is the envelope," he continued. "The 
postmark is London — eastern division. Within are 
the very words which were upon my father's last 
message: 'K. K. K.'; and then 'Put the papers on 
the sundial.' " 

"What have you done?" asked Holmes. 

"Nothing." 

"Nothing?" 

"To tell the truth" — he sank his face into his 
thin, white hands — "I have felt helpless. I have felt 
like one of those poor rabbits when the snake is 
writhing towards it. I seem to be in the grasp of 
some resistless, inexorable evil, which no foresight 
and no precautions can guard against." 



178 



The Five Orange Pips 



"Tut! tut!" cried Sherlock Holmes. "You must 
act, man, or you are lost. Nothing but energy can 
save you. This is no time for despair." 

"I have seen the police." 

"Ah!" 

"But they listened to my story with a smile. I 
am convinced that the inspector has formed the 
opinion that the letters are all practical jokes, and 
that the deaths of my relations were really acci- 
dents, as the jury stated, and were not to be con- 
nected with the warnings." 

Holmes shook his clenched hands in the air. 
"Incredible imbecility!" he cried. 

"They have, however, allowed me a policeman, 
who may remain in the house with me." 
"Has he come with you to-night?" 
"No. His orders were to stay in the house." 
Again Holmes raved in the air. 

"Why did you come to me," he cried, "and, 
above all, why did you not come at once?" 

"I did not know. It was only to-day that I spoke 
to Major Prendergast about my troubles and was 
advised by him to come to you." 

"It is really two days since you had the letter. 
We should have acted before this. You have no 
further evidence, I suppose, than that which you 
have placed before us — no suggestive detail which 
might help us?" 

"There is one thing," said John Openshaw. He 
rummaged in his coat pocket, and, drawing out a 
piece of discoloured, blue-tinted paper, he laid it 
out upon the table. "I have some remembrance," 
said he, "that on the day when my uncle burned 
the papers I observed that the small, unburned 
margins which lay amid the ashes were of this par- 
ticular colour. I found this single sheet upon the 
floor of his room, and I am inclined to think that 
it may be one of the papers which has, perhaps, 
fluttered out from among the others, and in that 
way has escaped destruction. Beyond the mention 
of pips, I do not see that it helps us much. I think 
myself that it is a page from some private diary. 
The writing is undoubtedly my uncle's." 

Holmes moved the lamp, and we both bent 
over the sheet of paper, which showed by its 
ragged edge that it had indeed been torn from a 
book. It was headed, "March, 1869," and beneath 
were the following enigmatical notices: 

4th. Hudson came. Same old platform. 

7th. Set the pips on McCauley, Paramore, and 

John Swain, of St. Augustine. 
9th. McCauley cleared. 



10th. John Swain cleared. 

12th. Visited Paramore. All well. 

"Thank you!" said Holmes, folding up the pa- 
per and returning it to our visitor. "And now you 
must on no account lose another instant. We can- 
not spare time even to discuss what you have told 
me. You must get home instantly and act." 

"What shall I do?" 

"There is but one thing to do. It must be done 
at once. You must put this piece of paper which 
you have shown us into the brass box which you 
have described. You must also put in a note to say 
that all the other papers were burned by your un- 
cle, and that this is the only one which remains. 
You must assert that in such words as will carry 
conviction with them. Having done this, you must 
at once put the box out upon the sundial, as di- 
rected. Do you understand?" 

"Entirely." 

"Do not think of revenge, or anything of the 
sort, at present. I think that we may gain that by 
means of the law; but we have our web to weave, 
while theirs is already woven. The first considera- 
tion is to remove the pressing danger which threat- 
ens you. The second is to clear up the mystery and 
to punish the guilty parties." 

"I thank you," said the young man, rising and 
pulling on his overcoat. "You have given me fresh 
life and hope. I shall certainly do as you advise." 

"Do not lose an instant. And, above all, take 
care of yourself in the meanwhile, for I do not 
think that there can be a doubt that you are threat- 
ened by a very real and imminent danger. How do 
you go back?" 

"By train from Waterloo." 

"It is not yet nine. The streets will be crowded, 
so I trust that you may be in safety. And yet you 
cannot guard yourself too closely." 

"I am armed." 

"That is well. To-morrow I shall set to work 
upon your case." 

"I shall see you at Horsham, then?" 

"No, your secret lies in London. It is there that 
I shall seek it." 

"Then I shall call upon you in a day, or in two 
days, with news as to the box and the papers. 
I shall take your advice in every particular." He 
shook hands with us and took his leave. Outside 
the wind still screamed and the rain splashed and 
pattered against the windows. This strange, wild 
story seemed to have come to us from amid the 
mad elements — blown in upon us like a sheet of 
sea-weed in a gale — and now to have been reab- 
sorbed by them once more. 



179 



The Five Orange Pips 



Sherlock Holmes sat for some time in silence, 
with his head sunk forward and his eyes bent upon 
the red glow of the fire. Then he lit his pipe, 
and leaning back in his chair he watched the blue 
smoke-rings as they chased each other up to the 
ceiling. 

"I think, Watson," he remarked at last, "that of 
all our cases we have had none more fantastic than 
this." 

"Save, perhaps, the Sign of Four. " 

"Well, yes. Save, perhaps, that. And yet this 
John Openshaw seems to me to be walking amid 
even greater perils than did the Sholtos." 

"But have you," I asked, "formed any definite 
conception as to what these perils are?" 

"There can be no question as to their nature," 
he answered. 

"Then what are they? Who is this K. K. K., and 
why does he pursue this unhappy family?" 

Sherlock Holmes closed his eyes and placed his 
elbows upon the arms of his chair, with his finger- 
tips together. "The ideal reasoner," he remarked, 
"would, when he had once been shown a single 
fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all 
the chain of events which led up to it but also all 
the results which would follow from it. As Cu- 
vier could correctly describe a whole animal by 
the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer 
who has thoroughly understood one link in a se- 
ries of incidents should be able to accurately state 
all the other ones, both before and after. We have 
not yet grasped the results which the reason alone 
can attain to. Problems may be solved in the study 
which have baffled all those who have sought a so- 
lution by the aid of their senses. To carry the art, 
however, to its highest pitch, it is necessary that 
the reasoner should be able to utilise all the facts 
which have come to his knowledge; and this in it- 
self implies, as you will readily see, a possession 
of all knowledge, which, even in these days of free 
education and encyclopaedias, is a somewhat rare 
accomplishment. It is not so impossible, however, 
that a man should possess all knowledge which is 
likely to be useful to him in his work, and this I 
have endeavoured in my case to do. If I remember 
rightly, you on one occasion, in the early days of 
our friendship, defined my limits in a very precise 
fashion." 

"Yes," I answered, laughing. "It was a singu- 
lar document. Philosophy, astronomy, and politics 
were marked at zero, I remember. Botany vari- 
able, geology profound as regards the mud-stains 



from any region within fifty miles of town, chem- 
istry eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational 
literature and crime records unique, violin-player, 
boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and self -poisoner by co- 
caine and tobacco. Those, I think, were the main 
points of my analysis." 

Holmes grinned at the last item. "Well," he 
said, "I say now, as I said then, that a man should 
keep his little brain-attic stocked with all the furni- 
ture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put 
away in the lumber-room of his library, where he 
can get it if he wants it. Now, for such a case as the 
one which has been submitted to us to-night, we 
need certainly to muster all our resources. Kindly 
hand me down the letter K of the 'American En- 
cyclopaedia' which stands upon the shelf beside 
you. Thank you. Now let us consider the situa- 
tion and see what may be deduced from it. In the 
first place, we may start with a strong presumption 
that Colonel Openshaw had some very strong rea- 
son for leaving America. Men at his time of life do 
not change all their habits and exchange willingly 
the charming climate of Florida for the lonely life 
of an English provincial town. His extreme love 
of solitude in England suggests the idea that he 
was in fear of someone or something, so we may 
assume as a working hypothesis that it was fear 
of someone or something which drove him from 
America. As to what it was he feared, we can only 
deduce that by considering the formidable letters 
which were received by himself and his successors. 
Did you remark the postmarks of those letters?" 

"The first was from Pondicherry, the second 
from Dundee, and the third from London." 

"From East London. What do you deduce from 
that?" 

"They are all seaports. That the writer was on 
board of a ship." 

"Excellent. We have already a clue. There can 
be no doubt that the probability — the strong prob- 
ability — is that the writer was on board of a ship. 
And now let us consider another point. In the case 
of Pondicherry, seven weeks elapsed between the 
threat and its fulfilment, in Dundee it was only 
some three or four days. Does that suggest any- 
thing?" 

"A greater distance to travel." 

"But the letter had also a greater distance to 
come." 

"Then I do not see the point." 

"There is at least a presumption that the vessel 
in which the man or men are is a sailing-ship. It 



180 



The Five Orange Pips 



looks as if they always send their singular warn- 
ing or token before them when starting upon their 
mission. You see how quickly the deed followed 
the sign when it came from Dundee. If they had 
come from Pondicherry in a steamer they would 
have arrived almost as soon as their letter. But, as 
a matter of fact, seven weeks elapsed. I think that 
those seven weeks represented the difference be- 
tween the mail-boat which brought the letter and 
the sailing vessel which brought the writer. " 

"It is possible." 

"More than that. It is probable. And now you 
see the deadly urgency of this new case, and why I 
urged young Openshaw to caution. The blow has 
always fallen at the end of the time which it would 
take the senders to travel the distance. But this 
one comes from London, and therefore we cannot 
count upon delay." 

"Good God!" I cried. "What can it mean, this 
relentless persecution?" 

"The papers which Openshaw carried are obvi- 
ously of vital importance to the person or persons 
in the sailing-ship. I think that it is quite clear that 
there must be more than one of them. A single 
man could not have carried out two deaths in such 
a way as to deceive a coroner's jury. There must 
have been several in it, and they must have been 
men of resource and determination. Their papers 
they mean to have, be the holder of them who it 
may. In this way you see K. K. K. ceases to be the 
initials of an individual and becomes the badge of 
a society." 

"But of what society?" 

"Have you never — " said Sherlock Holmes, 
bending forward and sinking his voice — "have you 
never heard of the Ku Klux Klan?" 

"I never have." 

Holmes turned over the leaves of the book 
upon his knee. "Here it is," said he presently: 
" 'Ku Klux Klan. A name derived from the 
fanciful resemblance to the sound produced 
by cocking a rifle. This terrible secret soci- 
ety was formed by some ex-Confederate sol- 
diers in the Southern states after the Civil 
War, and it rapidly formed local branches 
in different parts of the country, notably in 
Tennessee, Louisiana, the Carolinas, Geor- 
gia, and Florida. Its power was used for po- 
litical purposes, principally for the terroris- 
ing of the negro voters and the murdering 
and driving from the country of those who 
were opposed to its views. Its outrages were 
usually preceded by a warning sent to the 



marked man in some fantastic but generally 
recognised shape — a sprig of oak-leaves in 
some parts, melon seeds or orange pips in 
others. On receiving this the victim might 
either openly abjure his former ways, or 
might fly from the country. If he braved the 
matter out, death would unfailingly come 
upon him, and usually in some strange and 
unforeseen manner. So perfect was the or- 
ganisation of the society, and so systematic 
its methods, that there is hardly a case upon 
record where any man succeeded in braving 
it with impunity, or in which any of its out- 
rages were traced home to the perpetrators. 
For some years the organisation flourished 
in spite of the efforts of the United States 
government and of the better classes of the 
community in the South. Eventually, in 
the year 1869, the movement rather sud- 
denly collapsed, although there have been 
sporadic outbreaks of the same sort since 
that date.' 

"You will observe," said Holmes, laying down the 
volume, "that the sudden breaking up of the so- 
ciety was coincident with the disappearance of 
Openshaw from America with their papers. It may 
well have been cause and effect. It is no wonder 
that he and his family have some of the more im- 
placable spirits upon their track. You can under- 
stand that this register and diary may implicate 
some of the first men in the South, and that there 
may be many who will not sleep easy at night until 
it is recovered." 

"Then the page we have seen — " 

"Is such as we might expect. It ran, if I remem- 
ber right, 'sent the pips to A, B, and C — that is, 
sent the society's warning to them. Then there are 
successive entries that A and B cleared, or left the 
country, and finally that C was visited, with, I fear, 
a sinister result for C. Well, I think, Doctor, that we 
may let some light into this dark place, and I be- 
lieve that the only chance young Openshaw has in 
the meantime is to do what I have told him. There 
is nothing more to be said or to be done to-night, 
so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget 
for half an hour the miserable weather and the still 
more miserable ways of our fellow-men." 

It had cleared in the morning, and the sun was 
shining with a subdued brightness through the 
dim veil which hangs over the great city. Sher- 
lock Holmes was already at breakfast when I came 
down. 



181 



The Five Orange Pips 



"You will excuse me for not waiting for you," 
said he; "I have, I foresee, a very busy day be- 
fore me in looking into this case of young Open- 
shaw's." 

"What steps will you take?" I asked. 

"It will very much depend upon the results of 
my first inquiries. I may have to go down to Hor- 
sham, after all." 

"You will not go there first?" 

"No, I shall commence with the City. Just ring 
the bell and the maid will bring up your coffee." 

As I waited, I lifted the unopened newspaper 
from the table and glanced my eye over it. It rested 
upon a heading which sent a chill to my heart. 

"Holmes," I cried, "you are too late." 

"Ah!" said he, laying down his cup, "I feared 
as much. How was it done?" He spoke calmly, but 
I could see that he was deeply moved. 

"My eye caught the name of Openshaw, and 
the heading 'Tragedy Near Waterloo Bridge.' Here 
is the account: 

"Between nine and ten last night Police- 
Constable Cook, of the H Division, on duty 
near Waterloo Bridge, heard a cry for help 
and a splash in the water. The night, how- 
ever, was extremely dark and stormy, so 
that, in spite of the help of several passers- 
by, it was quite impossible to effect a res- 
cue. The alarm, however, was given, and, 
by the aid of the water-police, the body was 
eventually recovered. It proved to be that of 
a young gentleman whose name, as it ap- 
pears from an envelope which was found in 
his pocket, was John Openshaw, and whose 
residence is near Horsham. It is conjec- 
tured that he may have been hurrying down 
to catch the last train from Waterloo Sta- 
tion, and that in his haste and the extreme 
darkness he missed his path and walked 
over the edge of one of the small landing- 
places for river steamboats. The body ex- 
hibited no traces of violence, and there can 
be no doubt that the deceased had been the 
victim of an unfortunate accident, which 
should have the effect of calling the atten- 
tion of the authorities to the condition of 
the riverside landing-stages." 

We sat in silence for some minutes, Holmes more 
depressed and shaken than I had ever seen him. 

"That hurts my pride, Watson," he said at last. 
"It is a petty feeling, no doubt, but it hurts my 
pride. It becomes a personal matter with me now, 
and, if God sends me health, I shall set my hand 



upon this gang. That he should come to me for 
help, and that I should send him away to his 
death — !" He sprang from his chair and paced 
about the room in uncontrollable agitation, with a 
flush upon his sallow cheeks and a nervous clasp- 
ing and unclasping of his long thin hands. 

"They must be cunning devils," he exclaimed 
at last. "How could they have decoyed him down 
there? The Embankment is not on the direct line 
to the station. The bridge, no doubt, was too 
crowded, even on such a night, for their purpose. 
Well, Watson, we shall see who will win in the long 
run. I am going out now!" 

"To the police?" 

"No; I shall be my own police. When I have 
spun the web they may take the flies, but not be- 
fore." 

All day I was engaged in my professional work, 
and it was late in the evening before I returned 
to Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes had not come 
back yet. It was nearly ten o'clock before he en- 
tered, looking pale and worn. He walked up to 
the sideboard, and tearing a piece from the loaf he 
devoured it voraciously, washing it down with a 
long draught of water. 

"You are hungry," I remarked. 

"Starving. It had escaped my memory. I have 
had nothing since breakfast." 

"Nothing?" 

"Not a bite. I had no time to think of it." 

"And how have you succeeded?" 

"Well." 

"You have a clue?" 

"I have them in the hollow of my hand. Young 
Openshaw shall not long remain unavenged. Why, 
Watson, let us put their own devilish trade-mark 
upon them. It is well thought of!" 

"What do you mean?" 

He took an orange from the cupboard, and 
tearing it to pieces he squeezed out the pips upon 
the table. Of these he took five and thrust them 
into an envelope. On the inside of the flap he 
wrote "S. H. for J. O." Then he sealed it and ad- 
dressed it to "Captain James Calhoun, Barque Lone 
Star, Savannah, Georgia." 

"That will await him when he enters port," said 
he, chuckling. "It may give him a sleepless night. 
He will find it as sure a precursor of his fate as 
Openshaw did before him." 

"And who is this Captain Calhoun?" 

"The leader of the gang. I shall have the others, 
but he first." 

"How did you trace it, then?" 



182 



He took a large sheet of paper from his pocket, 
all covered with dates and names. 

"I have spent the whole day," said he, "over 
Lloyd's registers and files of the old papers, fol- 
lowing the future career of every vessel which 
touched at Pondicherry in January and February 
in '83. There were thirty-six ships of fair tonnage 
which were reported there during those months. 
Of these, one, the Lone Star, instantly attracted my 
attention, since, although it was reported as hav- 
ing cleared from London, the name is that which 
is given to one of the states of the Union." 

"Texas, I think." 

"I was not and am not sure which; but I knew 
that the ship must have an American origin." 

"What then?" 

"I searched the Dundee records, and when I 
found that the barque Lone Star was there in Jan- 
uary, '85, my suspicion became a certainty. I then 
inquired as to the vessels which lay at present in 
the port of London." 

"Yes?" 

"The Lone Star had arrived here last week. I 
went down to the Albert Dock and found that 
she had been taken down the river by the early 
tide this morning, homeward bound to Savannah. 
I wired to Gravesend and learned that she had 



passed some time ago, and as the wind is easterly 
I have no doubt that she is now past the Goodwins 
and not very far from the Isle of Wight." 

"What will you do, then?" 

"Oh, I have my hand upon him. He and the 
two mates, are as I learn, the only native-born 
Americans in the ship. The others are Finns and 
Germans. I know, also, that they were all three 
away from the ship last night. I had it from the 
stevedore who has been loading their cargo. By 
the time that their sailing-ship reaches Savannah 
the mail-boat will have carried this letter, and the 
cable will have informed the police of Savannah 
that these three gentlemen are badly wanted here 
upon a charge of murder." 

There is ever a flaw, however, in the best laid 
of human plans, and the murderers of John Open- 
shaw were never to receive the orange pips which 
would show them that another, as cunning and as 
resolute as themselves, was upon their track. Very 
long and very severe were the equinoctial gales 
that year. We waited long for news of the Lone Star 
of Savannah, but none ever reached us. We did at 
last hear that somewhere far out in the Atlantic a 
shattered stern-post of a boat was seen swinging 
in the trough of a wave, with the letters "L. S." 
carved upon it, and that is all which we shall ever 
know of the fate of the Lone Star. 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 




sa Whitney, brother of the late Elias 
Whitney, D.D., Principal of the Theolog- 
ical College of St. George's, was much 
addicted to opium. The habit grew 
upon him, as I understand, from some foolish 
freak when he was at college; for having read De 
Quincey's description of his dreams and sensa- 
tions, he had drenched his tobacco with laudanum 
in an attempt to produce the same effects. He 
found, as so many more have done, that the prac- 
tice is easier to attain than to get rid of, and for 
many years he continued to be a slave to the drug, 
an object of mingled horror and pity to his friends 
and relatives. I can see him now, with yellow, 
pasty face, drooping lids, and pin-point pupils, all 
huddled in a chair, the wreck and ruin of a noble 
man. 

One night — it was in June, '89 — there came a 
ring to my bell, about the hour when a man gives 
his first yawn and glances at the clock. I sat up in 
my chair, and my wife laid her needle-work down 
in her lap and made a little face of disappointment. 

"A patient!" said she. "You'll have to go out." 

I groaned, for I was newly come back from a 
weary day. 

We heard the door open, a few hurried words, 
and then quick steps upon the linoleum. Our own 
door flew open, and a lady, clad in some dark- 
coloured stuff, with a black veil, entered the room. 

"You will excuse my calling so late," she began, 
and then, suddenly losing her self-control, she ran 
forward, threw her arms about my wife's neck, 
and sobbed upon her shoulder. "Oh, I'm in such 
trouble!" she cried; "I do so want a little help." 

"Why," said my wife, pulling up her veil, "it is 
Kate Whitney. How you startled me, Kate! I had 
not an idea who you were when you came in." 

"I didn't know what to do, so I came straight to 
you." That was always the way. Folk who were in 
grief came to my wife like birds to a light-house. 

"It was very sweet of you to come. Now, you 
must have some wine and water, and sit here com- 
fortably and tell us all about it. Or should you 
rather that I sent James off to bed?" 

"Oh, no, no! I want the doctor's advice and 
help, too. It's about Isa. He has not been home for 
two days. I am so frightened about him!" 

It was not the first time that she had spoken to 
us of her husband's trouble, to me as a doctor, to 
my wife as an old friend and school companion. 
We soothed and comforted her by such words as 
we could find. Did she know where her husband 



was? Was it possible that we could bring him back 
to her? 

It seems that it was. She had the surest in- 
formation that of late he had, when the fit was 
on him, made use of an opium den in the far- 
thest east of the City. Hitherto his orgies had al- 
ways been confined to one day, and he had come 
back, twitching and shattered, in the evening. But 
now the spell had been upon him eight-and-forty 
hours, and he lay there, doubtless among the dregs 
of the docks, breathing in the poison or sleeping 
off the effects. There he was to be found, she was 
sure of it, at the Bar of Gold, in Upper Swandam 
Lane. But what was she to do? How could she, a 
young and timid woman, make her way into such 
a place and pluck her husband out from among 
the ruffians who surrounded him? 

There was the case, and of course there was 
but one way out of it. Might I not escort her to 
this place? And then, as a second thought, why 
should she come at all? I was Isa Whitney's medi- 
cal adviser, and as such I had influence over him. I 
could manage it better if I were alone. I promised 
her on my word that I would send him home in 
a cab within two hours if he were indeed at the 
address which she had given me. And so in ten 
minutes I had left my armchair and cheery sitting- 
room behind me, and was speeding eastward in a 
hansom on a strange errand, as it seemed to me at 
the time, though the future only could show how 
strange it was to be. 

But there was no great difficulty in the first 
stage of my adventure. Upper Swandam Lane is a 
vile alley lurking behind the high wharves which 
line the north side of the river to the east of Lon- 
don Bridge. Between a slop-shop and a gin-shop, 
approached by a steep flight of steps leading down 
to a black gap like the mouth of a cave, I found the 
den of which I was in search. Ordering my cab to 
wait, I passed down the steps, worn hollow in the 
centre by the ceaseless tread of drunken feet; and 
by the light of a flickering oil-lamp above the door 
I found the latch and made my way into a long, 
low room, thick and heavy with the brown opium 
smoke, and terraced with wooden berths, like the 
forecastle of an emigrant ship. 

Through the gloom one could dimly catch a 
glimpse of bodies lying in strange fantastic poses, 
bowed shoulders, bent knees, heads thrown back, 
and chins pointing upward, with here and there a 
dark, lack-lustre eye turned upon the newcomer. 
Out of the black shadows there glimmered little 
red circles of light, now bright, now faint, as the 
burning poison waxed or waned in the bowls of 



187 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 



the metal pipes. The most lay silent, but some mut- 
tered to themselves, and others talked together in a 
strange, low, monotonous voice, their conversation 
coming in gushes, and then suddenly tailing off 
into silence, each mumbling out his own thoughts 
and paying little heed to the words of his neigh- 
bour. At the farther end was a small brazier of 
burning charcoal, beside which on a three-legged 
wooden stool there sat a tall, thin old man, with 
his jaw resting upon his two fists, and his elbows 
upon his knees, staring into the fire. 

As I entered, a sallow Malay attendant had hur- 
ried up with a pipe for me and a supply of the 
drug, beckoning me to an empty berth. 

"Thank you. I have not come to stay," said I. 
"There is a friend of mine here, Mr. Isa Whitney, 
and I wish to speak with him. " 

There was a movement and an exclamation 
from my right, and peering through the gloom, I 
saw Whitney, pale, haggard, and unkempt, staring 
out at me. 

"My God! It's Watson," said he. He was in 
a pitiable state of reaction, with every nerve in a 
twitter. "I say, Watson, what o'clock is it?" 

"Nearly eleven." 

"Of what day?" 

"Of Friday, June 19th." 

"Good heavens! I thought it was Wednesday. It 
is Wednesday. What d'you want to frighten a chap 
for?" He sank his face onto his arms and began to 
sob in a high treble key. 

"I tell you that it is Friday, man. Your wife has 
been waiting this two days for you. You should be 
ashamed of yourself!" 

"So I am. But you've got mixed, Watson, for I 
have only been here a few hours, three pipes, four 
pipes — I forget how many. But I'll go home with 
you. I wouldn't frighten Kate — poor little Kate. 
Give me your hand! Have you a cab?" 

"Yes, I have one waiting." 

"Then I shall go in it. But I must owe some- 
thing. Find what I owe, Watson. I am all off colour. 
I can do nothing for myself." 

I walked down the narrow passage between 
the double row of sleepers, holding my breath to 
keep out the vile, stupefying fumes of the drug, 
and looking about for the manager. As I passed 
the tall man who sat by the brazier I felt a sud- 
den pluck at my skirt, and a low voice whispered, 
"Walk past me, and then look back at me." The 
words fell quite distinctly upon my ear. I glanced 
down. They could only have come from the old 



man at my side, and yet he sat now as absorbed 
as ever, very thin, very wrinkled, bent with age, 
an opium pipe dangling down from between his 
knees, as though it had dropped in sheer lassi- 
tude from his fingers. I took two steps forward 
and looked back. It took all my self-control to pre- 
vent me from breaking out into a cry of astonish- 
ment. He had turned his back so that none could 
see him but I. His form had filled out, his wrinkles 
were gone, the dull eyes had regained their fire, 
and there, sitting by the fire and grinning at my 
surprise, was none other than Sherlock Holmes. 
He made a slight motion to me to approach him, 
and instantly, as he turned his face half round to 
the company once more, subsided into a dodder- 
ing, loose-lipped senility. 

"Holmes!" I whispered, "what on earth are you 
doing in this den?" 

"As low as you can," he answered; "I have ex- 
cellent ears. If you would have the great kindness 
to get rid of that sottish friend of yours I should be 
exceedingly glad to have a little talk with you." 

"I have a cab outside." 

"Then pray send him home in it. You may 
safely trust him, for he appears to be too limp to 
get into any mischief. I should recommend you 
also to send a note by the cabman to your wife to 
say that you have thrown in your lot with me. If 
you will wait outside, I shall be with you in five 
minutes." 

It was difficult to refuse any of Sherlock 
Holmes' requests, for they were always so exceed- 
ingly definite, and put forward with such a quiet 
air of mastery. I felt, however, that when Whitney 
was once confined in the cab my mission was prac- 
tically accomplished; and for the rest, I could not 
wish anything better than to be associated with my 
friend in one of those singular adventures which 
were the normal condition of his existence. In a 
few minutes I had written my note, paid Whit- 
ney's bill, led him out to the cab, and seen him 
driven through the darkness. In a very short time a 
decrepit figure had emerged from the opium den, 
and I was walking down the street with Sherlock 
Holmes. For two streets he shuffled along with 
a bent back and an uncertain foot. Then, glanc- 
ing quickly round, he straightened himself out and 
burst into a hearty fit of laughter. 

"I suppose, Watson," said he, "that you imag- 
ine that I have added opium-smoking to cocaine 
injections, and all the other little weaknesses on 
which you have favoured me with your medical 

views." 



188 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 



"I was certainly surprised to find you there." 

"But not more so than I to find you." 

"I came to find a friend." 

"And I to find an enemy." 

"An enemy?" 

"Yes; one of my natural enemies, or, shall I say, 
my natural prey. Briefly, Watson, I am in the midst 
of a very remarkable inquiry, and I have hoped 
to find a clue in the incoherent ramblings of these 
sots, as I have done before now. Had I been recog- 
nised in that den my life would not have been 
worth an hour's purchase; for I have used it be- 
fore now for my own purposes, and the rascally 
Lascar who runs it has sworn to have vengeance 
upon me. There is a trap-door at the back of that 
building, near the corner of Paul's Wharf, which 
could tell some strange tales of what has passed 
through it upon the moonless nights." 

"What! You do not mean bodies?" 

"Ay, bodies, Watson. We should be rich men if 
we had £1000 for every poor devil who has been 
done to death in that den. It is the vilest murder- 
trap on the whole riverside, and I fear that Neville 
St. Clair has entered it never to leave it more. But 
our trap should be here." He put his two fore- 
fingers between his teeth and whistled shrilly — a 
signal which was answered by a similar whistle 
from the distance, followed shortly by the rattle of 
wheels and the clink of horses' hoofs. 

"Now, Watson," said Holmes, as a tall dog- 
cart dashed up through the gloom, throwing out 
two golden tunnels of yellow light from its side 
lanterns. "You'll come with me, won't you?" 

"If I can be of use." 

"Oh, a trusty comrade is always of use; and a 
chronicler still more so. My room at The Cedars is 
a double-bedded one." 

"The Cedars?" 

"Yes; that is Mr. St. Clair's house. I am staying 
there while I conduct the inquiry." 

"Where is it, then?" 

"Near Lee, in Kent. We have a seven-mile drive 
before us." 

"But I am all in the dark." 

"Of course you are. You'll know all about it 
presently. Jump up here. All right, John; we shall 
not need you. Here's half a crown. Look out for 
me to-morrow, about eleven. Give her her head. 
So long, then!" 

He flicked the horse with his whip, and 
we dashed away through the endless succession 



of sombre and deserted streets, which widened 
gradually, until we were flying across a broad 
balustraded bridge, with the murky river flow- 
ing sluggishly beneath us. Beyond lay another 
dull wilderness of bricks and mortar, its silence 
broken only by the heavy, regular footfall of the 
policeman, or the songs and shouts of some be- 
lated party of revellers. A dull wrack was drift- 
ing slowly across the sky, and a star or two twin- 
kled dimly here and there through the rifts of the 
clouds. Holmes drove in silence, with his head 
sunk upon his breast, and the air of a man who 
is lost in thought, while I sat beside him, curi- 
ous to learn what this new quest might be which 
seemed to tax his powers so sorely, and yet afraid 
to break in upon the current of his thoughts. We 
had driven several miles, and were beginning to 
get to the fringe of the belt of suburban villas, 
when he shook himself, shrugged his shoulders, 
and lit up his pipe with the air of a man who has 
satisfied himself that he is acting for the best. 

"You have a grand gift of silence, Watson," said 
he. "It makes you quite invaluable as a compan- 
ion. Ton my word, it is a great thing for me to 
have someone to talk to, for my own thoughts are 
not over-pleasant. I was wondering what I should 
say to this dear little woman to-night when she 
meets me at the door." 

"You forget that I know nothing about it." 

"I shall just have time to tell you the facts of 
the case before we get to Lee. It seems absurdly 
simple, and yet, somehow I can get nothing to go 
upon. There's plenty of thread, no doubt, but I 
can't get the end of it into my hand. Now, I'll state 
the case clearly and concisely to you, Watson, and 
maybe you can see a spark where all is dark to 
me." 

"Proceed, then." 

"Some years ago — to be definite, in May, 
1884 — there came to Lee a gentleman, Neville St. 
Clair by name, who appeared to have plenty of 
money. He took a large villa, laid out the grounds 
very nicely, and lived generally in good style. By 
degrees he made friends in the neighbourhood, 
and in 1887 he married the daughter of a local 
brewer, by whom he now has two children. He 
had no occupation, but was interested in several 
companies and went into town as a rule in the 
morning, returning by the 5.14 from Cannon Street 
every night. Mr. St. Clair is now thirty-seven years 
of age, is a man of temperate habits, a good hus- 
band, a very affectionate father, and a man who 
is popular with all who know him. I may add 
that his whole debts at the present moment, as far 



189 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 



as we have been able to ascertain, amount to £88 
ios., while he has £220 standing to his credit in the 
Capital and Counties Bank. There is no reason, 
therefore, to think that money troubles have been 
weighing upon his mind. 

"Last Monday Mr. Neville St. Clair went into 
town rather earlier than usual, remarking before 
he started that he had two important commis- 
sions to perform, and that he would bring his lit- 
tle boy home a box of bricks. Now, by the mer- 
est chance, his wife received a telegram upon this 
same Monday, very shortly after his departure, to 
the effect that a small parcel of considerable value 
which she had been expecting was waiting for her 
at the offices of the Aberdeen Shipping Company. 
Now, if you are well up in your London, you will 
know that the office of the company is in Fresno 
Street, which branches out of Upper Swandam 
Lane, where you found me to-night. Mrs. St. Clair 
had her lunch, started for the City, did some shop- 
ping, proceeded to the company's office, got her 
packet, and found herself at exactly 4.35 walking 
through Swandam Lane on her way back to the 
station. Have you followed me so far?" 

"It is very clear." 

"If you remember, Monday was an exceedingly 
hot day, and Mrs. St. Clair walked slowly, glancing 
about in the hope of seeing a cab, as she did not 
like the neighbourhood in which she found her- 
self. While she was walking in this way down 
Swandam Lane, she suddenly heard an ejacula- 
tion or cry, and was struck cold to see her hus- 
band looking down at her and, as it seemed to her, 
beckoning to her from a second-floor window. The 
window was open, and she distinctly saw his face, 
which she describes as being terribly agitated. He 
waved his hands frantically to her, and then van- 
ished from the window so suddenly that it seemed 
to her that he had been plucked back by some ir- 
resistible force from behind. One singular point 
which struck her quick feminine eye was that al- 
though he wore some dark coat, such as he had 
started to town in, he had on neither collar nor 
necktie. 

"Convinced that something was amiss with 
him, she rushed down the steps — for the house 
was none other than the opium den in which you 
found me to-night — and running through the front 
room she attempted to ascend the stairs which led 
to the first floor. At the foot of the stairs, however, 
she met this Lascar scoundrel of whom I have spo- 
ken, who thrust her back and, aided by a Dane, 
who acts as assistant there, pushed her out into the 
street. Filled with the most maddening doubts and 



fears, she rushed down the lane and, by rare good- 
fortune, met in Fresno Street a number of consta- 
bles with an inspector, all on their way to their 
beat. The inspector and two men accompanied her 
back, and in spite of the continued resistance of 
the proprietor, they made their way to the room in 
which Mr. St. Clair had last been seen. There was 
no sign of him there. In fact, in the whole of that 
floor there was no one to be found save a crippled 
wretch of hideous aspect, who, it seems, made his 
home there. Both he and the Lascar stoutly swore 
that no one else had been in the front room dur- 
ing the afternoon. So determined was their denial 
that the inspector was staggered, and had almost 
come to believe that Mrs. St. Clair had been de- 
luded when, with a cry, she sprang at a small deal 
box which lay upon the table and tore the lid from 
it. Out there fell a cascade of children's bricks. It 
was the toy which he had promised to bring home. 

"This discovery, and the evident confusion 
which the cripple showed, made the inspector re- 
alise that the matter was serious. The rooms were 
carefully examined, and results all pointed to an 
abominable crime. The front room was plainly fur- 
nished as a sitting-room and led into a small bed- 
room, which looked out upon the back of one of 
the wharves. Between the wharf and the bedroom 
window is a narrow strip, which is dry at low tide 
but is covered at high tide with at least four and 
a half feet of water. The bedroom window was 
a broad one and opened from below. On exam- 
ination traces of blood were to be seen upon the 
windowsill, and several scattered drops were visi- 
ble upon the wooden floor of the bedroom. Thrust 
away behind a curtain in the front room were all 
the clothes of Mr. Neville St. Clair, with the excep- 
tion of his coat. His boots, his socks, his hat, and 
his watch — all were there. There were no signs of 
violence upon any of these garments, and there 
were no other traces of Mr. Neville St. Clair. Out 
of the window he must apparently have gone for 
no other exit could be discovered, and the ominous 
bloodstains upon the sill gave little promise that he 
could save himself by swimming, for the tide was 
at its very highest at the moment of the tragedy. 

"And now as to the villains who seemed to be 
immediately implicated in the matter. The Lascar 
was known to be a man of the vilest antecedents, 
but as, by Mrs. St. Clair's story, he was known to 
have been at the foot of the stair within a very 
few seconds of her husband's appearance at the 
window, he could hardly have been more than an 
accessory to the crime. His defence was one of 
absolute ignorance, and he protested that he had 
no knowledge as to the doings of Hugh Boone, 



190 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 



his lodger, and that he could not account in any 
way for the presence of the missing gentleman's 
clothes. 

"So much for the Lascar manager. Now for the 
sinister cripple who lives upon the second floor 
of the opium den, and who was certainly the last 
human being whose eyes rested upon Neville St. 
Clair. His name is Hugh Boone, and his hideous 
face is one which is familiar to every man who 
goes much to the City. He is a professional beggar, 
though in order to avoid the police regulations he 
pretends to a small trade in wax vestas. Some little 
distance down Threadneedle Street, upon the left- 
hand side, there is, as you may have remarked, a 
small angle in the wall. Here it is that this crea- 
ture takes his daily seat, cross-legged with his tiny 
stock of matches on his lap, and as he is a piteous 
spectacle a small rain of charity descends into the 
greasy leather cap which lies upon the pavement 
beside him. I have watched the fellow more than 
once before ever I thought of making his profes- 
sional acquaintance, and I have been surprised at 
the harvest which he has reaped in a short time. 
His appearance, you see, is so remarkable that no 
one can pass him without observing him. A shock 
of orange hair, a pale face disfigured by a horrible 
scar, which, by its contraction, has turned up the 
outer edge of his upper lip, a bulldog chin, and a 
pair of very penetrating dark eyes, which present a 
singular contrast to the colour of his hair, all mark 
him out from amid the common crowd of mendi- 
cants and so, too, does his wit, for he is ever ready 
with a reply to any piece of chaff which may be 
thrown at him by the passers-by. This is the man 
whom we now learn to have been the lodger at the 
opium den, and to have been the last man to see 
the gentleman of whom we are in quest. " 

"But a cripple!" said I. "What could he have 
done single-handed against a man in the prime of 
life?" 

"He is a cripple in the sense that he walks with 
a limp; but in other respects he appears to be 
a powerful and well-nurtured man. Surely your 
medical experience would tell you, Watson, that 
weakness in one limb is often compensated for by 
exceptional strength in the others." 

"Pray continue your narrative." 

"Mrs. St. Clair had fainted at the sight of the 
blood upon the window, and she was escorted 
home in a cab by the police, as her presence could 
be of no help to them in their investigations. In- 
spector Barton, who had charge of the case, made 
a very careful examination of the premises, but 
without finding anything which threw any light 



upon the matter. One mistake had been made in 
not arresting Boone instantly, as he was allowed 
some few minutes during which he might have 
communicated with his friend the Lascar, but this 
fault was soon remedied, and he was seized and 
searched, without anything being found which 
could incriminate him. There were, it is true, 
some blood-stains upon his right shirt-sleeve, but 
he pointed to his ring-finger, which had been cut 
near the nail, and explained that the bleeding came 
from there, adding that he had been to the win- 
dow not long before, and that the stains which had 
been observed there came doubtless from the same 
source. He denied strenuously having ever seen 
Mr. Neville St. Clair and swore that the presence 
of the clothes in his room was as much a mystery 
to him as to the police. As to Mrs. St. Clair's as- 
sertion that she had actually seen her husband at 
the window, he declared that she must have been 
either mad or dreaming. He was removed, loudly 
protesting, to the police-station, while the inspec- 
tor remained upon the premises in the hope that 
the ebbing tide might afford some fresh clue. 

"And it did, though they hardly found upon 
the mud-bank what they had feared to find. It was 
Neville St. Clair's coat, and not Neville St. Clair, 
which lay uncovered as the tide receded. And 
what do you think they found in the pockets?" 

"I cannot imagine." 

"No, I don't think you would guess. Every 
pocket stuffed with pennies and half-pennies — 421 
pennies and 270 half-pennies. It was no wonder 
that it had not been swept away by the tide. But a 
human body is a different matter. There is a fierce 
eddy between the wharf and the house. It seemed 
likely enough that the weighted coat had remained 
when the stripped body had been sucked away 
into the river." 

"But I understand that all the other clothes 
were found in the room. Would the body be 
dressed in a coat alone?" 

"No, sir, but the facts might be met speciously 
enough. Suppose that this man Boone had thrust 
Neville St. Clair through the window, there is no 
human eye which could have seen the deed. What 
would he do then? It would of course instantly 
strike him that he must get rid of the tell-tale gar- 
ments. He would seize the coat, then, and be in 
the act of throwing it out, when it would occur to 
him that it would swim and not sink. He has little 
time, for he has heard the scuffle downstairs when 
the wife tried to force her way up, and perhaps 
he has already heard from his Lascar confederate 
that the police are hurrying up the street. There is 



191 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 



not an instant to be lost. He rushes to some secret 
hoard, where he has accumulated the fruits of his 
beggary, and he stuffs all the coins upon which he 
can lay his hands into the pockets to make sure of 
the coat's sinking. He throws it out, and would 
have done the same with the other garments had 
not he heard the rush of steps below, and only just 
had time to close the window when the police ap- 
peared." 

"It certainly sounds feasible." 

"Well, we will take it as a working hypothesis 
for want of a better. Boone, as I have told you, 
was arrested and taken to the station, but it could 
not be shown that there had ever before been any- 
thing against him. He had for years been known 
as a professional beggar, but his life appeared to 
have been a very quiet and innocent one. There the 
matter stands at present, and the questions which 
have to be solved — what Neville St. Clair was do- 
ing in the opium den, what happened to him when 
there, where is he now, and what Hugh Boone had 
to do with his disappearance — are all as far from 
a solution as ever. I confess that I cannot recall 
any case within my experience which looked at 
the first glance so simple and yet which presented 
such difficulties." 

While Sherlock Holmes had been detailing this 
singular series of events, we had been whirling 
through the outskirts of the great town until the 
last straggling houses had been left behind, and 
we rattled along with a country hedge upon either 
side of us. Just as he finished, however, we drove 
through two scattered villages, where a few lights 
still glimmered in the windows. 

"We are on the outskirts of Lee," said my com- 
panion. "We have touched on three English coun- 
ties in our short drive, starting in Middlesex, pass- 
ing over an angle of Surrey, and ending in Kent. 
See that light among the trees? That is The Cedars, 
and beside that lamp sits a woman whose anxious 
ears have already, I have little doubt, caught the 
clink of our horse's feet." 

"But why are you not conducting the case from 
Baker Street?" I asked. 

"Because there are many inquiries which must 
be made out here. Mrs. St. Clair has most kindly 
put two rooms at my disposal, and you may rest 
assured that she will have nothing but a welcome 
for my friend and colleague. I hate to meet her, 
Watson, when I have no news of her husband. 
Here we are. Whoa, there, whoa!" 

We had pulled up in front of a large villa which 
stood within its own grounds. A stable-boy had 



run out to the horse's head, and springing down, 
I followed Holmes up the small, winding gravel- 
drive which led to the house. As we approached, 
the door flew open, and a little blonde woman 
stood in the opening, clad in some sort of light 
mousseline de soie, with a touch of fluffy pink 
chiffon at her neck and wrists. She stood with 
her figure outlined against the flood of light, one 
hand upon the door, one half-raised in her eager- 
ness, her body slightly bent, her head and face pro- 
truded, with eager eyes and parted lips, a standing 
question. 

"Well?" she cried, "well?" And then, seeing 
that there were two of us, she gave a cry of hope 
which sank into a groan as she saw that my com- 
panion shook his head and shrugged his shoul- 
ders. 

"No good news?" 

"None." 

"No bad?" 

"No." 

"Thank God for that. But come in. You must 
be weary, for you have had a long day." 

"This is my friend, Dr. Watson. He has been of 
most vital use to me in several of my cases, and a 
lucky chance has made it possible for me to bring 
him out and associate him with this investigation." 

"I am delighted to see you," said she, press- 
ing my hand warmly. "You will, I am sure, for- 
give anything that may be wanting in our arrange- 
ments, when you consider the blow which has 
come so suddenly upon us." 

"My dear madam," said I, "I am an old cam- 
paigner, and if I were not I can very well see that 
no apology is needed. If I can be of any assistance, 
either to you or to my friend here, I shall be indeed 
happy." 

"Now, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said the lady as 
we entered a well-lit dining-room, upon the ta- 
ble of which a cold supper had been laid out, "I 
should very much like to ask you one or two plain 
questions, to which I beg that you will give a plain 
answer." 

"Certainly, madam." 

"Do not trouble about my feelings. I am not 
hysterical, nor given to fainting. I simply wish to 
hear your real, real opinion." 

"Upon what point?" 

"In your heart of hearts, do you think that 
Neville is alive?" 

Sherlock Holmes seemed to be embarrassed by 
the question. "Frankly, now!" she repeated, stand- 
ing upon the rug and looking keenly down at him 
as he leaned back in a basket-chair. 



192 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 



"Frankly, then, madam, I do not." 

"You think that he is dead?" 

"I do." 

"Murdered?" 

"I don't say that. Perhaps." 

"And on what day did he meet his death?" 

"On Monday." 

"Then perhaps, Mr. Holmes, you will be good 
enough to explain how it is that I have received a 
letter from him to-day." 

Sherlock Holmes sprang out of his chair as if 
he had been galvanised. 

"What!" he roared. 

"Yes, to-day." She stood smiling, holding up a 
little slip of paper in the air. 
"May I see it?" 
"Certainly." 

He snatched it from her in his eagerness, and 
smoothing it out upon the table he drew over the 
lamp and examined it intently. I had left my chair 
and was gazing at it over his shoulder. The enve- 
lope was a very coarse one and was stamped with 
the Gravesend postmark and with the date of that 
very day, or rather of the day before, for it was 
considerably after midnight. 

"Coarse writing," murmured Holmes. "Surely 
this is not your husband's writing, madam." 

"No, but the enclosure is." 
"I perceive also that whoever addressed the en- 
velope had to go and inquire as to the address." 
"How can you tell that?" 

"The name, you see, is in perfectly black ink, 
which has dried itself. The rest is of the greyish 
colour, which shows that blotting-paper has been 
used. If it had been written straight off, and then 
blotted, none would be of a deep black shade. This 
man has written the name, and there has then been 
a pause before he wrote the address, which can 
only mean that he was not familiar with it. It is, of 
course, a trifle, but there is nothing so important 
as trifles. Let us now see the letter. Ha! there has 
been an enclosure here!" 

"Yes, there was a ring. His signet-ring." 

"And you are sure that this is your husband's 
hand?" 

"One of his hands." 

"One?" 

"His hand when he wrote hurriedly. It is very 
unlike his usual writing, and yet I know it well." 



"Dearest do not be frightened. All 
will come well. There is a huge error 
which it may take some little time to 
rectify. Wait in patience. 

"Neville. 

Written in pencil upon the fly-leaf of a book, 
octavo size, no water-mark. Hum! Posted to-day 
in Gravesend by a man with a dirty thumb. Ha! 
And the flap has been gummed, if I am not very 
much in error, by a person who had been chewing 
tobacco. And you have no doubt that it is your 
husband's hand, madam?" 

"None. Neville wrote those words." 

"And they were posted to-day at Gravesend. 
Well, Mrs. St. Clair, the clouds lighten, though I 
should not venture to say that the danger is over." 

"But he must be alive, Mr. Holmes." 

"Unless this is a clever forgery to put us on the 
wrong scent. The ring, after all, proves nothing. It 
may have been taken from him." 

"No, no; it is, it is his very own writing!" 

"Very well. It may, however, have been written 
on Monday and only posted to-day." 

"That is possible." 

"If so, much may have happened between." 

"Oh, you must not discourage me, Mr. Holmes. 
I know that all is well with him. There is so keen 
a sympathy between us that I should know if evil 
came upon him. On the very day that I saw him 
last he cut himself in the bedroom, and yet I in the 
dining-room rushed upstairs instantly with the ut- 
most certainty that something had happened. Do 
you think that I would respond to such a trifle and 
yet be ignorant of his death?" 

"I have seen too much not to know that the im- 
pression of a woman may be more valuable than 
the conclusion of an analytical reasoner. And in 
this letter you certainly have a very strong piece of 
evidence to corroborate your view. But if your hus- 
band is alive and able to write letters, why should 
he remain away from you?" 

"I cannot imagine. It is unthinkable." 

"And on Monday he made no remarks before 
leaving you?" 

"No." 

"And you were surprised to see him in Swan- 
dam Lane?" 

"Very much so." 

"Was the window open?" 

"Yes." 

"Then he might have called to you?" 

"He might." 



193 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 



"He only, as I understand, gave an inarticulate 
cry?" 

"Yes." 

"A call for help, you thought?" 

"Yes. He waved his hands." 

"But it might have been a cry of surprise. As- 
tonishment at the unexpected sight of you might 
cause him to throw up his hands?" 

"It is possible." 

"And you thought he was pulled back?" 

"He disappeared so suddenly." 

"He might have leaped back. You did not see 
anyone else in the room?" 

"No, but this horrible man confessed to having 
been there, and the Lascar was at the foot of the 
stairs." 

"Quite so. Your husband, as far as you could 
see, had his ordinary clothes on?" 

"But without his collar or tie. I distinctly saw 
his bare throat." 

"Had he ever spoken of Swandam Lane?" 

"Never." 

"Had he ever showed any signs of having taken 
opium?" 

"Never." 

"Thank you, Mrs. St. Clair. Those are the prin- 
cipal points about which I wished to be abso- 
lutely clear. We shall now have a little supper and 
then retire, for we may have a very busy day to- 
morrow." 

A large and comfortable double-bedded room 
had been placed at our disposal, and I was quickly 
between the sheets, for I was weary after my night 
of adventure. Sherlock Holmes was a man, how- 
ever, who, when he had an unsolved problem 
upon his mind, would go for days, and even for 
a week, without rest, turning it over, rearranging 
his facts, looking at it from every point of view 
until he had either fathomed it or convinced him- 
self that his data were insufficient. It was soon 
evident to me that he was now preparing for an 
all-night sitting. He took off his coat and waist- 
coat, put on a large blue dressing-gown, and then 
wandered about the room collecting pillows from 
his bed and cushions from the sofa and armchairs. 
With these he constructed a sort of Eastern divan, 
upon which he perched himself cross-legged, with 
an ounce of shag tobacco and a box of matches laid 
out in front of him. In the dim light of the lamp 
I saw him sitting there, an old briar pipe between 
his lips, his eyes fixed vacantly upon the corner of 



the ceiling, the blue smoke curling up from him, 
silent, motionless, with the light shining upon his 
strong-set aquiline features. So he sat as I dropped 
off to sleep, and so he sat when a sudden ejac- 
ulation caused me to wake up, and I found the 
summer sun shining into the apartment. The pipe 
was still between his lips, the smoke still curled 
upward, and the room was full of a dense tobacco 
haze, but nothing remained of the heap of shag 
which I had seen upon the previous night. 

"Awake, Watson?" he asked. 

"Yes." 

"Game for a morning drive?" 

"Certainly." 

"Then dress. No one is stirring yet, but I know 
where the stable-boy sleeps, and we shall soon 
have the trap out." He chuckled to himself as he 
spoke, his eyes twinkled, and he seemed a dif- 
ferent man to the sombre thinker of the previous 
night. 

As I dressed I glanced at my watch. It was no 
wonder that no one was stirring. It was twenty- 
five minutes past four. I had hardly finished when 
Holmes returned with the news that the boy was 
putting in the horse. 

"I want to test a little theory of mine," said he, 
pulling on his boots. "I think, Watson, that you are 
now standing in the presence of one of the most 
absolute fools in Europe. I deserve to be kicked 
from here to Charing Cross. But I think I have the 
key of the affair now." 

"And where is it?" I asked, smiling. 

"In the bathroom," he answered. "Oh, yes, I 
am not joking," he continued, seeing my look of 
incredulity. "I have just been there, and I have 
taken it out, and I have got it in this Gladstone 
bag. Come on, my boy, and we shall see whether 
it will not fit the lock." 

We made our way downstairs as quietly as pos- 
sible, and out into the bright morning sunshine. 
In the road stood our horse and trap, with the 
half-clad stable-boy waiting at the head. We both 
sprang in, and away we dashed down the London 
Road. A few country carts were stirring, bearing in 
vegetables to the metropolis, but the lines of villas 
on either side were as silent and lifeless as some 
city in a dream. 

"It has been in some points a singular case," 
said Holmes, flicking the horse on into a gallop. "I 
confess that I have been as blind as a mole, but it 
is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn 
it at all." 

In town the earliest risers were just begin- 
ning to look sleepily from their windows as we 



194 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 



drove through the streets of the Surrey side. Pass- 
ing down the Waterloo Bridge Road we crossed 
over the river, and dashing up Wellington Street 
wheeled sharply to the right and found ourselves 
in Bow Street. Sherlock Holmes was well known 
to the force, and the two constables at the door 
saluted him. One of them held the horse's head 
while the other led us in. 

"Who is on duty?" asked Holmes. 

"Inspector Bradstreet, sir." 

"Ah, Bradstreet, how are you?" A tall, stout of- 
ficial had come down the stone-flagged passage, in 
a peaked cap and frogged jacket. "I wish to have a 
quiet word with you, Bradstreet." "Certainly, Mr. 
Holmes. Step into my room here." It was a small, 
office-like room, with a huge ledger upon the ta- 
ble, and a telephone projecting from the wall. The 
inspector sat down at his desk. 

"What can I do for you, Mr. Holmes?" 

"I called about that beggarman, Boone — the 
one who was charged with being concerned in the 
disappearance of Mr. Neville St. Clair, of Lee." 

"Yes. He was brought up and remanded for 
further inquiries." 

"So I heard. You have him here?" 

"In the cells." 

"Is he quiet?" 

"Oh, he gives no trouble. But he is a dirty 
scoundrel." 

"Dirty?" 

"Yes, it is all we can do to make him wash his 
hands, and his face is as black as a tinker's. Well, 
when once his case has been settled, he will have 
a regular prison bath; and I think, if you saw him, 
you would agree with me that he needed it." 

"I should like to see him very much." 

"Would you? That is easily done. Come this 
way. You can leave your bag." 

"No, I think that I'll take it." 

"Very good. Come this way, if you please." 
He led us down a passage, opened a barred door, 
passed down a winding stair, and brought us to a 
whitewashed corridor with a line of doors on each 
side. 

"The third on the right is his," said the inspec- 
tor. "Here it is!" He quietly shot back a panel in 
the upper part of the door and glanced through. 

"He is asleep," said he. "You can see him very 
well." 



We both put our eyes to the grating. The pris- 
oner lay with his face towards us, in a very deep 
sleep, breathing slowly and heavily. He was a 
middle-sized man, coarsely clad as became his 
calling, with a coloured shirt protruding through 
the rent in his tattered coat. He was, as the inspec- 
tor had said, extremely dirty, but the grime which 
covered his face could not conceal its repulsive ug- 
liness. A broad wheal from an old scar ran right 
across it from eye to chin, and by its contraction 
had turned up one side of the upper lip, so that 
three teeth were exposed in a perpetual snarl. A 
shock of very bright red hair grew low over his 
eyes and forehead. 

"He's a beauty, isn't he?" said the inspector. 

"He certainly needs a wash," remarked 
Holmes. "I had an idea that he might, and I 
took the liberty of bringing the tools with me." He 
opened the Gladstone bag as he spoke, and took 
out, to my astonishment, a very large bath -sponge. 

"He! he! You are a funny one," chuckled the 
inspector. 

"Now, if you will have the great goodness to 
open that door very quietly, we will soon make 
him cut a much more respectable figure." 

"Well, I don't know why not," said the inspec- 
tor. "He doesn't look a credit to the Bow Street 
cells, does he?" He slipped his key into the lock, 
and we all very quietly entered the cell. The 
sleeper half turned, and then settled down once 
more into a deep slumber. Holmes stooped to the 
water-jug, moistened his sponge, and then rubbed 
it twice vigorously across and down the prisoner 's 
face. 

"Let me introduce you," he shouted, "to Mr. 
Neville St. Clair, of Lee, in the county of Kent." 

Never in my life have I seen such a sight. The 
man's face peeled off under the sponge like the 
bark from a tree. Gone was the coarse brown tint! 
Gone, too, was the horrid scar which had seamed 
it across, and the twisted lip which had given 
the repulsive sneer to the face! A twitch brought 
away the tangled red hair, and there, sitting up 
in his bed, was a pale, sad-faced, refined-looking 
man, black-haired and smooth-skinned, rubbing 
his eyes and staring about him with sleepy bewil- 
derment. Then suddenly realising the exposure, 
he broke into a scream and threw himself down 
with his face to the pillow. 

"Great heavens!" cried the inspector, "it is, in- 
deed, the missing man. I know him from the pho- 
tograph." 



195 



The Man with the Twisted Lip 



The prisoner turned with the reckless air of a 
man who abandons himself to his destiny. "Be it 
so," said he. "And pray what am I charged with?" 

"With making away with Mr. Neville St. — Oh, 
come, you can't be charged with that unless they 
make a case of attempted suicide of it," said the 
inspector with a grin. "Well, I have been twenty- 
seven years in the force, but this really takes the 
cake." 

"If I am Mr. Neville St. Clair, then it is obvi- 
ous that no crime has been committed, and that, 
therefore, I am illegally detained." 

"No crime, but a very great error has been com- 
mitted," said Holmes. "You would have done bet- 
ter to have trusted your wife." 

"It was not the wife; it was the children," 
groaned the prisoner. "God help me, I would not 
have them ashamed of their father. My God! What 
an exposure! What can I do?" 

Sherlock Holmes sat down beside him on the 
couch and patted him kindly on the shoulder. 

"If you leave it to a court of law to clear the 
matter up," said he, "of course you can hardly 
avoid publicity. On the other hand, if you convince 
the police authorities that there is no possible case 
against you, I do not know that there is any reason 
that the details should find their way into the pa- 
pers. Inspector Bradstreet would, I am sure, make 
notes upon anything which you might tell us and 
submit it to the proper authorities. The case would 
then never go into court at all." 

"God bless you!" cried the prisoner passion- 
ately. "I would have endured imprisonment, ay, 
even execution, rather than have left my miserable 
secret as a family blot to my children. 

"You are the first who have ever heard my 
story. My father was a schoolmaster in Chester- 
field, where I received an excellent education. I 
travelled in my youth, took to the stage, and fi- 
nally became a reporter on an evening paper in 
London. One day my editor wished to have a se- 
ries of articles upon begging in the metropolis, and 
I volunteered to supply them. There was the point 
from which all my adventures started. It was only 
by trying begging as an amateur that I could get 
the facts upon which to base my articles. When 
an actor I had, of course, learned all the secrets 
of making up, and had been famous in the green- 
room for my skill. I took advantage now of my 
attainments. I painted my face, and to make my- 
self as pitiable as possible I made a good scar and 
fixed one side of my lip in a twist by the aid of 
a small slip of flesh-coloured plaster. Then with a 



red head of hair, and an appropriate dress, I took 
my station in the business part of the city, osten- 
sibly as a match-seller but really as a beggar. For 
seven hours I plied my trade, and when I returned 
home in the evening I found to my surprise that I 
had received no less than 26s. 4d. 

"I wrote my articles and thought little more of 
the matter until, some time later, I backed a bill for 
a friend and had a writ served upon me for £25. I 
was at my wit's end where to get the money, but 
a sudden idea came to me. I begged a fortnight's 
grace from the creditor, asked for a holiday from 
my employers, and spent the time in begging in 
the City under my disguise. In ten days I had the 
money and had paid the debt. 

"Well, you can imagine how hard it was to set- 
tle down to arduous work at £2 a week when I 
knew that I could earn as much in a day by smear- 
ing my face with a little paint, laying my cap on 
the ground, and sitting still. It was a long fight 
between my pride and the money, but the dollars 
won at last, and I threw up reporting and sat day 
after day in the corner which I had first chosen, 
inspiring pity by my ghastly face and filling my 
pockets with coppers. Only one man knew my se- 
cret. He was the keeper of a low den in which 
I used to lodge in Swandam Lane, where I could 
every morning emerge as a squalid beggar and in 
the evenings transform myself into a well-dressed 
man about town. This fellow, a Lascar, was well 
paid by me for his rooms, so that I knew that my 
secret was safe in his possession. 

"Well, very soon I found that I was saving con- 
siderable sums of money. I do not mean that any 
beggar in the streets of London could earn £700 a 
year — which is less than my average takings — but 
I had exceptional advantages in my power of mak- 
ing up, and also in a facility of repartee, which 
improved by practice and made me quite a recog- 
nised character in the City. All day a stream of 
pennies, varied by silver, poured in upon me, and 
it was a very bad day in which I failed to take £2. 

"As I grew richer I grew more ambitious, took 
a house in the country, and eventually married, 
without anyone having a suspicion as to my real 
occupation. My dear wife knew that I had busi- 
ness in the City. She little knew what. 

"Last Monday I had finished for the day and 
was dressing in my room above the opium den 
when I looked out of my window and saw, to my 
horror and astonishment, that my wife was stand- 
ing in the street, with her eyes fixed full upon me. 
I gave a cry of surprise, threw up my arms to cover 
my face, and, rushing to my confidant, the Lascar, 



196 



entreated him to prevent anyone from coming up 
to me. I heard her voice downstairs, but I knew 
that she could not ascend. Swiftly I threw off my 
clothes, pulled on those of a beggar, and put on my 
pigments and wig. Even a wife's eyes could not 
pierce so complete a disguise. But then it occurred 
to me that there might be a search in the room, 
and that the clothes might betray me. I threw open 
the window, reopening by my violence a small cut 
which I had inflicted upon myself in the bedroom 
that morning. Then I seized my coat, which was 
weighted by the coppers which I had just trans- 
ferred to it from the leather bag in which I carried 
my takings. I hurled it out of the window, and it 
disappeared into the Thames. The other clothes 
would have followed, but at that moment there 
was a rush of constables up the stair, and a few 
minutes after I found, rather, I confess, to my re- 
lief, that instead of being identified as Mr. Neville 
St. Clair, I was arrested as his murderer. 

"I do not know that there is anything else for 
me to explain. I was determined to preserve my 
disguise as long as possible, and hence my prefer- 
ence for a dirty face. Knowing that my wife would 
be terribly anxious, I slipped off my ring and con- 
fided it to the Lascar at a moment when no con- 
stable was watching me, together with a hurried 
scrawl, telling her that she had no cause to fear. " 

"That note only reached her yesterday," said 
Holmes. 



"Good God! What a week she must have 
spent! " 

"The police have watched this Lascar," said In- 
spector Bradstreet, "and I can quite understand 
that he might find it difficult to post a letter un- 
observed. Probably he handed it to some sailor 
customer of his, who forgot all about it for some 
days." 

"That was it," said Holmes, nodding approv- 
ingly; "I have no doubt of it. But have you never 
been prosecuted for begging?" 

"Many times; but what was a fine to me?" 

"It must stop here, however," said Bradstreet. 
"If the police are to hush this thing up, there must 
be no more of Hugh Boone." 

"I have sworn it by the most solemn oaths 
which a man can take." 

"In that case I think that it is probable that no 
further steps may be taken. But if you are found 
again, then all must come out. I am sure, Mr. 
Holmes, that we are very much indebted to you 
for having cleared the matter up. I wish I knew 
how you reach your results." 

"I reached this one," said my friend, "by sit- 
ting upon five pillows and consuming an ounce of 
shag. I think, Watson, that if we drive to Baker 
Street we shall just be in time for breakfast." 



The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 



The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 




had called upon my friend Sherlock 
Holmes upon the second morning after 
Christmas, with the intention of wishing 
him the compliments of the season. He 
was lounging upon the sofa in a purple dressing- 
gown, a pipe-rack within his reach upon the right, 
and a pile of crumpled morning papers, evidently 
newly studied, near at hand. Beside the couch was 
a wooden chair, and on the angle of the back hung 
a very seedy and disreputable hard-felt hat, much 
the worse for wear, and cracked in several places. 
A lens and a forceps lying upon the seat of the 
chair suggested that the hat had been suspended 
in this manner for the purpose of examination. 

"You are engaged," said I; "perhaps I interrupt 
you." 

"Not at all. I am glad to have a friend with 
whom I can discuss my results. The matter is a 
perfectly trivial one" — he jerked his thumb in the 
direction of the old hat — "but there are points in 
connection with it which are not entirely devoid of 
interest and even of instruction." 

I seated myself in his armchair and warmed 
my hands before his crackling fire, for a sharp 
frost had set in, and the windows were thick with 
the ice crystals. "I suppose," I remarked, "that, 
homely as it looks, this thing has some deadly 
story linked on to it — that it is the clue which will 
guide you in the solution of some mystery and the 
punishment of some crime." 

"No, no. No crime," said Sherlock Holmes, 
laughing. "Only one of those whimsical little inci- 
dents which will happen when you have four mil- 
lion human beings all jostling each other within 
the space of a few square miles. Amid the action 
and reaction of so dense a swarm of humanity, 
every possible combination of events may be ex- 
pected to take place, and many a little problem will 
be presented which may be striking and bizarre 
without being criminal. We have already had ex- 
perience of such." 

"So much so," I remarked, "that of the last six 
cases which I have added to my notes, three have 
been entirely free of any legal crime." 

"Precisely. You allude to my attempt to recover 
the Irene Adler papers, to the singular case of Miss 
Mary Sutherland, and to the adventure of the man 
with the twisted lip. Well, I have no doubt that this 
small matter will fall into the same innocent cate- 
gory. You know Peterson, the commissionaire?" 

"Yes." 

"It is to him that this trophy belongs." 

"It is his hat." 



"No, no, he found it. Its owner is unknown. 
I beg that you will look upon it not as a battered 
billycock but as an intellectual problem. And, first, 
as to how it came here. It arrived upon Christmas 
morning, in company with a good fat goose, which 
is, I have no doubt, roasting at this moment in 
front of Peterson's fire. The facts are these: about 
four o'clock on Christmas morning, Peterson, who, 
as you know, is a very honest fellow, was returning 
from some small jollification and was making his 
way homeward down Tottenham Court Road. In 
front of him he saw, in the gaslight, a tallish man, 
walking with a slight stagger, and carrying a white 
goose slung over his shoulder. As he reached the 
corner of Goodge Street, a row broke out between 
this stranger and a little knot of roughs. One of 
the latter knocked off the man's hat, on which he 
raised his stick to defend himself and, swinging 
it over his head, smashed the shop window be- 
hind him. Peterson had rushed forward to pro- 
tect the stranger from his assailants; but the man, 
shocked at having broken the window, and seeing 
an official-looking person in uniform rushing to- 
wards him, dropped his goose, took to his heels, 
and vanished amid the labyrinth of small streets 
which lie at the back of Tottenham Court Road. 
The roughs had also fled at the appearance of Pe- 
terson, so that he was left in possession of the field 
of battle, and also of the spoils of victory in the 
shape of this battered hat and a most unimpeach- 
able Christmas goose." 

"Which surely he restored to their owner?" 

"My dear fellow, there lies the problem. It is 
true that 'For Mrs. Henry Baker' was printed upon 
a small card which was tied to the bird's left leg, 
and it is also true that the initials 'H. B.' are legible 
upon the lining of this hat, but as there are some 
thousands of Bakers, and some hundreds of Henry 
Bakers in this city of ours, it is not easy to restore 
lost property to any one of them. " 

"What, then, did Peterson do?" 

"He brought round both hat and goose to me 
on Christmas morning, knowing that even the 
smallest problems are of interest to me. The goose 
we retained until this morning, when there were 
signs that, in spite of the slight frost, it would be 
well that it should be eaten without unnecessary 
delay. Its finder has carried it off, therefore, to ful- 
fil the ultimate destiny of a goose, while I continue 
to retain the hat of the unknown gentleman who 
lost his Christmas dinner." 

"Did he not advertise?" 

"No." 



201 



The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 



"Then, what clue could you have as to his iden- 
tity?" 

"Only as much as we can deduce." 

"From his hat?" 

"Precisely." 

"But you are joking. What can you gather from 
this old battered felt?" 

"Here is my lens. You know my methods. 
What can you gather yourself as to the individ- 
uality of the man who has worn this article?" 

I took the tattered object in my hands and 
turned it over rather ruefully. It was a very or- 
dinary black hat of the usual round shape, hard 
and much the worse for wear. The lining had been 
of red silk, but was a good deal discoloured. There 
was no maker's name; but, as Holmes had re- 
marked, the initials "H. B." were scrawled upon 
one side. It was pierced in the brim for a hat- 
securer, but the elastic was missing. For the rest, 
it was cracked, exceedingly dusty, and spotted in 
several places, although there seemed to have been 
some attempt to hide the discoloured patches by 
smearing them with ink. 

"I can see nothing," said I, handing it back to 
my friend. 

"On the contrary, Watson, you can see every- 
thing. You fail, however, to reason from what you 
see. You are too timid in drawing your inferences." 

"Then, pray tell me what it is that you can infer 
from this hat?" 

He picked it up and gazed at it in the pecu- 
liar introspective fashion which was characteris- 
tic of him. "It is perhaps less suggestive than it 
might have been," he remarked, "and yet there are 
a few inferences which are very distinct, and a few 
others which represent at least a strong balance of 
probability. That the man was highly intellectual is 
of course obvious upon the face of it, and also that 
he was fairly well-to-do within the last three years, 
although he has now fallen upon evil days. He had 
foresight, but has less now than formerly, pointing 
to a moral retrogression, which, when taken with 
the decline of his fortunes, seems to indicate some 
evil influence, probably drink, at work upon him. 
This may account also for the obvious fact that his 
wife has ceased to love him." 

"My dear Holmes!" 

"He has, however, retained some degree of self- 
respect," he continued, disregarding my remon- 
strance. "He is a man who leads a sedentary 
life, goes out little, is out of training entirely, is 
middle-aged, has grizzled hair which he has had 



cut within the last few days, and which he anoints 
with lime-cream. These are the more patent facts 
which are to be deduced from his hat. Also, by the 
way, that it is extremely improbable that he has gas 
laid on in his house." 

"You are certainly joking, Holmes." 

"Not in the least. Is it possible that even now, 
when I give you these results, you are unable to 
see how they are attained?" 

"I have no doubt that I am very stupid, but I 
must confess that I am unable to follow you. For 
example, how did you deduce that this man was 
intellectual?" 

For answer Holmes clapped the hat upon his 
head. It came right over the forehead and settled 
upon the bridge of his nose. "It is a question of cu- 
bic capacity," said he; "a man with so large a brain 
must have something in it." 

"The decline of his fortunes, then?" 

"This hat is three years old. These flat brims 
curled at the edge came in then. It is a hat of the 
very best quality. Look at the band of ribbed silk 
and the excellent lining. If this man could afford 
to buy so expensive a hat three years ago, and has 
had no hat since, then he has assuredly gone down 
in the world." 

"Well, that is clear enough, certainly. But how 
about the foresight and the moral retrogression?" 

Sherlock Holmes laughed. "Here is the fore- 
sight," said he putting his finger upon the little 
disc and loop of the hat-securer. "They are never 
sold upon hats. If this man ordered one, it is a 
sign of a certain amount of foresight, since he went 
out of his way to take this precaution against the 
wind. But since we see that he has broken the elas- 
tic and has not troubled to replace it, it is obvious 
that he has less foresight now than formerly, which 
is a distinct proof of a weakening nature. On the 
other hand, he has endeavoured to conceal some 
of these stains upon the felt by daubing them with 
ink, which is a sign that he has not entirely lost his 
self-respect." 

"Your reasoning is certainly plausible." 

"The further points, that he is middle-aged, 
that his hair is grizzled, that it has been recently 
cut, and that he uses lime-cream, are all to be gath- 
ered from a close examination of the lower part of 
the lining. The lens discloses a large number of 
hair-ends, clean cut by the scissors of the barber. 
They all appear to be adhesive, and there is a dis- 
tinct odour of lime-cream. This dust, you will ob- 
serve, is not the gritty, grey dust of the street but 
the fluffy brown dust of the house, showing that it 



202 



The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 



has been hung up indoors most of the time, while 
the marks of moisture upon the inside are proof 
positive that the wearer perspired very freely, and 
could therefore, hardly be in the best of training." 

"But his wife — you said that she had ceased to 
love him." 

"This hat has not been brushed for weeks. 
When I see you, my dear Watson, with a week's ac- 
cumulation of dust upon your hat, and when your 
wife allows you to go out in such a state, I shall 
fear that you also have been unfortunate enough 
to lose your wife's affection." 

"But he might be a bachelor." 

"Nay, he was bringing home the goose as a 
peace-offering to his wife. Remember the card 
upon the bird's leg." 

"You have an answer to everything. But how 
on earth do you deduce that the gas is not laid on 
in his house?" 

"One tallow stain, or even two, might come by 
chance; but when I see no less than five, I think 
that there can be little doubt that the individual 
must be brought into frequent contact with burn- 
ing tallow — walks upstairs at night probably with 
his hat in one hand and a guttering candle in the 
other. Anyhow, he never got tallow-stains from a 
gas-jet. Are you satisfied?" 

"Well, it is very ingenious," said I, laughing; 
"but since, as you said just now, there has been no 
crime committed, and no harm done save the loss 
of a goose, all this seems to be rather a waste of 
energy." 

Sherlock Holmes had opened his mouth to re- 
ply, when the door flew open, and Peterson, the 
commissionaire, rushed into the apartment with 
flushed cheeks and the face of a man who is dazed 
with astonishment. 

"The goose, Mr. Holmes! The goose, sir!" he 
gasped. 

"Eh? What of it, then? Has it returned to 
life and flapped off through the kitchen window?" 
Holmes twisted himself round upon the sofa to get 
a fairer view of the man's excited face. 

"See here, sir! See what my wife found in its 
crop!" He held out his hand and displayed upon 
the centre of the palm a brilliantly scintillating blue 
stone, rather smaller than a bean in size, but of 
such purity and radiance that it twinkled like an 
electric point in the dark hollow of his hand. 

Sherlock Holmes sat up with a whistle. "By 
Jove, Peterson!" said he, "this is treasure trove in- 
deed. I suppose you know what you have got?" 



"A diamond, sir? A precious stone. It cuts into 
glass as though it were putty. " 

"It's more than a precious stone. It is the pre- 
cious stone." 

"Not the Countess of Morcar's blue carbuncle!" 
I ejaculated. 

"Precisely so. I ought to know its size and 
shape, seeing that I have read the advertisement 
about it in The Times every day lately. It is ab- 
solutely unique, and its value can only be conjec- 
tured, but the reward offered of £1000 is certainly 
not within a twentieth part of the market price." 

"A thousand pounds! Great Lord of mercy!" 
The commissionaire plumped down into a chair 
and stared from one to the other of us. 

"That is the reward, and I have reason to know 
that there are sentimental considerations in the 
background which would induce the Countess to 
part with half her fortune if she could but recover 
the gem." 

"It was lost, if I remember aright, at the Hotel 
Cosmopolitan," I remarked. 

"Precisely so, on December 22nd, just five days 
ago. John Horner, a plumber, was accused of hav- 
ing abstracted it from the lady's jewel-case. The 
evidence against him was so strong that the case 
has been referred to the Assizes. I have some ac- 
count of the matter here, I believe." He rummaged 
amid his newspapers, glancing over the dates, un- 
til at last he smoothed one out, doubled it over, 
and read the following paragraph: 

"Hotel Cosmopolitan Jewel Robbery. John 
Horner, 26, plumber, was brought up upon 
the charge of having upon the 22nd inst., 
abstracted from the jewel-case of the Count- 
ess of Morcar the valuable gem known as 
the blue carbuncle. James Ryder, upper- 
attendant at the hotel, gave his evidence 
to the effect that he had shown Horner 
up to the dressing-room of the Countess 
of Morcar upon the day of the robbery in 
order that he might solder the second bar 
of the grate, which was loose. He had re- 
mained with Horner some little time, but 
had finally been called away. On return- 
ing, he found that Horner had disappeared, 
that the bureau had been forced open, and 
that the small morocco casket in which, as 
it afterwards transpired, the Countess was 
accustomed to keep her jewel, was lying 
empty upon the dressing-table. Ryder in- 
stantly gave the alarm, and Horner was ar- 
rested the same evening; but the stone could 



203 



The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 



not be found either upon his person or in 
his rooms. Catherine Cusack, maid to the 
Countess, deposed to having heard Ryder's 
cry of dismay on discovering the robbery, 
and to having rushed into the room, where 
she found matters as described by the last 
witness. Inspector Bradstreet, B division, 
gave evidence as to the arrest of Horner, 
who struggled frantically, and protested his 
innocence in the strongest terms. Evidence 
of a previous conviction for robbery having 
been given against the prisoner, the magis- 
trate refused to deal summarily with the of- 
fence, but referred it to the Assizes. Horner, 
who had shown signs of intense emotion 
during the proceedings, fainted away at the 
conclusion and was carried out of court." 

"Hum! So much for the police-court," said Holmes 
thoughtfully, tossing aside the paper. "The ques- 
tion for us now to solve is the sequence of events 
leading from a rifled jewel-case at one end to the 
crop of a goose in Tottenham Court Road at the 
other. You see, Watson, our little deductions have 
suddenly assumed a much more important and 
less innocent aspect. Here is the stone; the stone 
came from the goose, and the goose came from 
Mr. Henry Baker, the gentleman with the bad hat 
and all the other characteristics with which I have 
bored you. So now we must set ourselves very 
seriously to finding this gentleman and ascertain- 
ing what part he has played in this little mystery. 
To do this, we must try the simplest means first, 
and these lie undoubtedly in an advertisement in 
all the evening papers. If this fail, I shall have re- 
course to other methods." 

"What will you say?" 

"Give me a pencil and that slip of paper. Now, 
then: 

'Found at the corner of Goodge 
Street, a goose and a black felt hat. 
Mr. Henry Baker can have the same by 
applying at 6.30 this evening at 22 ib, 
Baker Street.' That is clear and con- 
cise." 

"Very. But will he see it?" 

"Well, he is sure to keep an eye on the papers, 
since, to a poor man, the loss was a heavy one. He 
was clearly so scared by his mischance in breaking 
the window and by the approach of Peterson that 
he thought of nothing but flight, but since then 
he must have bitterly regretted the impulse which 
caused him to drop his bird. Then, again, the in- 
troduction of his name will cause him to see it, for 



everyone who knows him will direct his attention 
to it. Here you are, Peterson, run down to the ad- 
vertising agency and have this put in the evening 
papers." 

"In which, sir?" 

"Oh, in the Globe, Star, Pall Mall, St. James's, 
Evening News, Standard, Echo, and any others that 
occur to you." 

"Very well, sir. And this stone?" 

"Ah, yes, I shall keep the stone. Thank you. 
And, I say, Peterson, just buy a goose on your way 
back and leave it here with me, for we must have 
one to give to this gentleman in place of the one 
which your family is now devouring." 

When the commissionaire had gone, Holmes 
took up the stone and held it against the light. "It's 
a bonny thing," said he. "Just see how it glints 
and sparkles. Of course it is a nucleus and focus 
of crime. Every good stone is. They are the devil's 
pet baits. In the larger and older jewels every facet 
may stand for a bloody deed. This stone is not 
yet twenty years old. It was found in the banks of 
the Amoy River in southern China and is remark- 
able in having every characteristic of the carbun- 
cle, save that it is blue in shade instead of ruby 
red. In spite of its youth, it has already a sinister 
history. There have been two murders, a vitriol- 
throwing, a suicide, and several robberies brought 
about for the sake of this forty-grain weight of 
crystallised charcoal. Who would think that so 
pretty a toy would be a purveyor to the gallows 
and the prison? I'll lock it up in my strong box 
now and drop a line to the Countess to say that we 
have it." 

"Do you think that this man Horner is inno- 
cent?" 

"I cannot tell." 

"Well, then, do you imagine that this other one, 
Henry Baker, had anything to do with the matter?" 

"It is, I think, much more likely that Henry 
Baker is an absolutely innocent man, who had no 
idea that the bird which he was carrying was of 
considerably more value than if it were made of 
solid gold. That, however, I shall determine by a 
very simple test if we have an answer to our ad- 
vertisement." 

"And you can do nothing until then?" 

"Nothing." 

"In that case I shall continue my professional 
round. But I shall come back in the evening at the 
hour you have mentioned, for I should like to see 
the solution of so tangled a business." 

"Very glad to see you. I dine at seven. There is 
a woodcock, I believe. By the way, in view of recent 



204 



The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 



occurrences, perhaps I ought to ask Mrs. Hudson 
to examine its crop." 

I had been delayed at a case, and it was a little 
after half-past six when I found myself in Baker 
Street once more. As I approached the house I saw 
a tall man in a Scotch bonnet with a coat which 
was buttoned up to his chin waiting outside in the 
bright semicircle which was thrown from the fan- 
light. Just as I arrived the door was opened, and 
we were shown up together to Holmes' room. 

"Mr. Henry Baker, I believe," said he, rising 
from his armchair and greeting his visitor with the 
easy air of geniality which he could so readily as- 
sume. "Pray take this chair by the fire, Mr. Baker. 
It is a cold night, and I observe that your circula- 
tion is more adapted for summer than for winter. 
Ah, Watson, you have just come at the right time. 
Is that your hat, Mr. Baker?" 

"Yes, sir, that is undoubtedly my hat." 

He was a large man with rounded shoulders, a 
massive head, and a broad, intelligent face, slop- 
ing down to a pointed beard of grizzled brown. 
A touch of red in nose and cheeks, with a slight 
tremor of his extended hand, recalled Holmes' sur- 
mise as to his habits. His rusty black frock-coat 
was buttoned right up in front, with the collar 
turned up, and his lank wrists protruded from his 
sleeves without a sign of cuff or shirt. He spoke in 
a slow staccato fashion, choosing his words with 
care, and gave the impression generally of a man 
of learning and letters who had had ill-usage at 
the hands of fortune. 

"We have retained these things for some days," 
said Holmes, "because we expected to see an ad- 
vertisement from you giving your address. I am at 
a loss to know now why you did not advertise." 

Our visitor gave a rather shamefaced laugh. 
"Shillings have not been so plentiful with me as 
they once were," he remarked. "I had no doubt 
that the gang of roughs who assaulted me had car- 
ried off both my hat and the bird. I did not care to 
spend more money in a hopeless attempt at recov- 
ering them." 

"Very naturally. By the way, about the bird, we 
were compelled to eat it." 

"To eat it!" Our visitor half rose from his chair 
in his excitement. 

"Yes, it would have been of no use to anyone 
had we not done so. But I presume that this other 
goose upon the sideboard, which is about the same 
weight and perfectly fresh, will answer your pur- 
pose equally well?" 



"Oh, certainly, certainly," answered Mr. Baker 
with a sigh of relief. 

"Of course, we still have the feathers, legs, crop, 
and so on of your own bird, so if you wish — " 

The man burst into a hearty laugh. "They 
might be useful to me as relics of my adventure," 
said he, "but beyond that I can hardly see what 
use the disjecta membra of my late acquaintance are 
going to be to me. No, sir, I think that, with your 
permission, I will confine my attentions to the ex- 
cellent bird which I perceive upon the sideboard." 

Sherlock Holmes glanced sharply across at me 
with a slight shrug of his shoulders. 

"There is your hat, then, and there your bird," 
said he. "By the way, would it bore you to tell me 
where you got the other one from? I am somewhat 
of a fowl fancier, and I have seldom seen a better 
grown goose." 

"Certainly, sir," said Baker, who had risen and 
tucked his newly gained property under his arm. 
"There are a few of us who frequent the Alpha Inn, 
near the Museum — we are to be found in the Mu- 
seum itself during the day, you understand. This 
year our good host, Windigate by name, instituted 
a goose club, by which, on consideration of some 
few pence every week, we were each to receive a 
bird at Christmas. My pence were duly paid, and 
the rest is familiar to you. I am much indebted to 
you, sir, for a Scotch bonnet is fitted neither to my 
years nor my gravity." With a comical pomposity 
of manner he bowed solemnly to both of us and 
strode off upon his way. 

"So much for Mr. Henry Baker," said Holmes 
when he had closed the door behind him. "It 
is quite certain that he knows nothing whatever 
about the matter. Are you hungry, Watson?" 

"Not particularly." 

"Then I suggest that we turn our dinner into a 
supper and follow up this clue while it is still hot." 

"By all means." 

It was a bitter night, so we drew on our ul- 
sters and wrapped cravats about our throats. Out- 
side, the stars were shining coldly in a cloudless 
sky, and the breath of the passers-by blew out into 
smoke like so many pistol shots. Our footfalls 
rang out crisply and loudly as we swung through 
the doctors' quarter, Wimpole Street, Harley Street, 
and so through Wigmore Street into Oxford Street. 
In a quarter of an hour we were in Bloomsbury at 
the Alpha Inn, which is a small public-house at the 
corner of one of the streets which runs down into 



205 



The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 



Holborn. Holmes pushed open the door of the pri- 
vate bar and ordered two glasses of beer from the 
ruddy-faced, white-aproned landlord. 

"Your beer should be excellent if it is as good 
as your geese," said he. 

"My geese!" The man seemed surprised. 

"Yes. I was speaking only half an hour ago 
to Mr. Henry Baker, who was a member of your 
goose club." 

"Ah! yes, I see. But you see, sir, them's not our 
geese." 

"Indeed! Whose, then?" 

"Well, I got the two dozen from a salesman in 
Covent Garden." 

"Indeed? I know some of them. Which was it?" 

"Breckinridge is his name." 

"Ah! I don't know him. Well, here's your good 
health landlord, and prosperity to your house. 
Good-night. " 

"Now for Mr. Breckinridge," he continued, but- 
toning up his coat as we came out into the frosty 
air. "Remember, Watson that though we have so 
homely a thing as a goose at one end of this chain, 
we have at the other a man who will certainly get 
seven years' penal servitude unless we can estab- 
lish his innocence. It is possible that our inquiry 
may but confirm his guilt; but, in any case, we have 
a line of investigation which has been missed by 
the police, and which a singular chance has placed 
in our hands. Let us follow it out to the bitter end. 
Faces to the south, then, and quick march!" 

We passed across Holborn, down Endell Street, 
and so through a zigzag of slums to Covent Gar- 
den Market. One of the largest stalls bore the 
name of Breckinridge upon it, and the proprietor 
a horsey-looking man, with a sharp face and trim 
side-whiskers was helping a boy to put up the 
shutters. 

"Good-evening. It's a cold night," said Holmes. 

The salesman nodded and shot a questioning 
glance at my companion. 

"Sold out of geese, I see," continued Holmes, 
pointing at the bare slabs of marble. 

"Let you have five hundred to-morrow morn- 
ing." 

"That's no good." 

"Well, there are some on the stall with the gas- 



flare.' 



''Ah, but I was recommended to you." 
"Who by?" 



"The landlord of the Alpha." 

"Oh, yes; I sent him a couple of dozen." 

"Fine birds they were, too. Now where did you 
get them from?" 

To my surprise the question provoked a burst 
of anger from the salesman. 

"Now, then, mister," said he, with his head 
cocked and his arms akimbo, "what are you driv- 
ing at? Let's have it straight, now." 

"It is straight enough. I should like to know 
who sold you the geese which you supplied to the 
Alpha." 

"Well then, I shan't tell you. So now!" 

"Oh, it is a matter of no importance; but I don't 
know why you should be so warm over such a tri- 
fle." 

"Warm! You'd be as warm, maybe, if you were 
as pestered as I am. When I pay good money for 
a good article there should be an end of the busi- 
ness; but it's 'Where are the geese?' and 'Who did 
you sell the geese to?' and 'What will you take for 
the geese?' One would think they were the only 
geese in the world, to hear the fuss that is made 
over them." 

"Well, I have no connection with any other peo- 
ple who have been making inquiries," said Holmes 
carelessly. "If you won't tell us the bet is off, that 
is all. But I'm always ready to back my opinion on 
a matter of fowls, and I have a fiver on it that the 
bird I ate is country bred." 

"Well, then, you've lost your fiver, for it's town 
bred," snapped the salesman. 

"It's nothing of the kind." 

"I say it is." 

"I don't believe it." 

"D'you think you know more about fowls than 
I, who have handled them ever since I was a nip- 
per? I tell you, all those birds that went to the 
Alpha were town bred." 

"You'll never persuade me to believe that." 

"Will you bet, then?" 

"It's merely taking your money, for I know that 
I am right. But I'll have a sovereign on with you, 
just to teach you not to be obstinate." 

The salesman chuckled grimly. "Bring me the 
books, Bill," said he. 

The small boy brought round a small thin vol- 
ume and a great greasy-backed one, laying them 
out together beneath the hanging lamp. 

"Now then, Mr. Cocksure," said the salesman, 
"I thought that I was out of geese, but before I fin- 
ish you'll find that there is still one left in my shop. 
You see this little book?" 



206 



The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 



"Well?" 

"That's the list of the folk from whom I buy. 
D'you see? Well, then, here on this page are the 
country folk, and the numbers after their names 
are where their accounts are in the big ledger. 
Now, then! You see this other page in red ink? 
Well, that is a list of my town suppliers. Now, look 
at that third name. Just read it out to me." 

"Mrs. Oakshott, 117, Brixton Road — 249," read 
Holmes. 

"Quite so. Now turn that up in the ledger." 

Holmes turned to the page indicated. "Here 
you are, 'Mrs. Oakshott, 117, Brixton Road, egg 
and poultry supplier.' " 

"Now, then, what's the last entry?" 

" 'December 22nd. Twenty-four geese at 7s. 
6d.'" 

"Quite so. There you are. And underneath?" 

" 'Sold to Mr. Windigate of the Alpha, at 12s.' " 

"What have you to say now?" 

Sherlock Holmes looked deeply chagrined. He 
drew a sovereign from his pocket and threw it 
down upon the slab, turning away with the air of 
a man whose disgust is too deep for words. A 
few yards off he stopped under a lamp-post and 
laughed in the hearty, noiseless fashion which was 
peculiar to him. 

"When you see a man with whiskers of that cut 
and the 'Pink 'un' protruding out of his pocket, 
you can always draw him by a bet," said he. "I 
daresay that if I had put £100 down in front of him, 
that man would not have given me such complete 
information as was drawn from him by the idea 
that he was doing me on a wager. Well, Watson, 
we are, I fancy, nearing the end of our quest, and 
the only point which remains to be determined is 
whether we should go on to this Mrs. Oakshott 
to-night, or whether we should reserve it for to- 
morrow. It is clear from what that surly fellow 
said that there are others besides ourselves who 
are anxious about the matter, and I should — " 

His remarks were suddenly cut short by a loud 
hubbub which broke out from the stall which we 
had just left. Turning round we saw a little rat- 
faced fellow standing in the centre of the circle of 
yellow light which was thrown by the swinging 
lamp, while Breckinridge, the salesman, framed in 
the door of his stall, was shaking his fists fiercely 
at the cringing figure. 

"I've had enough of you and your geese," he 
shouted. "I wish you were all at the devil together. 
If you come pestering me any more with your silly 



talk I'll set the dog at you. You bring Mrs. Oak- 
shott here and I'll answer her, but what have you 
to do with it? Did I buy the geese off you?" 

"No; but one of them was mine all the same," 
whined the little man. 

"Well, then, ask Mrs. Oakshott for it." 

"She told me to ask you." 

"Well, you can ask the King of Proosia, for all 
I care. I've had enough of it. Get out of this!" 
He rushed fiercely forward, and the inquirer flit- 
ted away into the darkness. 

"Ha! this may save us a visit to Brixton Road," 
whispered Holmes. "Come with me, and we will 
see what is to be made of this fellow." Strid- 
ing through the scattered knots of people who 
lounged round the flaring stalls, my companion 
speedily overtook the little man and touched him 
upon the shoulder. He sprang round, and I could 
see in the gas-light that every vestige of colour had 
been driven from his face. 

"Who are you, then? What do you want?" he 
asked in a quavering voice. 

"You will excuse me," said Holmes blandly, 
"but I could not help overhearing the questions 
which you put to the salesman just now. I think 
that I could be of assistance to you." 

"You? Who are you? How could you know 
anything of the matter?" 

"My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my busi- 
ness to know what other people don't know." 

"But you can know nothing of this?" 

"Excuse me, I know everything of it. You are 
endeavouring to trace some geese which were sold 
by Mrs. Oakshott, of Brixton Road, to a salesman 
named Breckinridge, by him in turn to Mr. Windi- 
gate, of the Alpha, and by him to his club, of which 
Mr. Henry Baker is a member." 

"Oh, sir, you are the very man whom I have 
longed to meet," cried the little fellow with out- 
stretched hands and quivering fingers. "I can 
hardly explain to you how interested I am in this 
matter." 

Sherlock Holmes hailed a four-wheeler which 
was passing. "In that case we had better discuss 
it in a cosy room rather than in this wind-swept 
market-place," said he. "But pray tell me, before 
we go farther, who it is that I have the pleasure of 
assisting." 

The man hesitated for an instant. "My name 
is John Robinson," he answered with a sidelong 
glance. 

"No, no; the real name," said Holmes sweetly. 
"It is always awkward doing business with an 
alias." 



207 



The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 



A flush sprang to the white cheeks of the 
stranger. "Well then," said he, "my real name is 
James Ryder." 

"Precisely so. Head attendant at the Hotel Cos- 
mopolitan. Pray step into the cab, and I shall soon 
be able to tell you everything which you would 
wish to know." 

The little man stood glancing from one to the 
other of us with half-frightened, half -hopeful eyes, 
as one who is not sure whether he is on the verge 
of a windfall or of a catastrophe. Then he stepped 
into the cab, and in half an hour we were back in 
the sitting-room at Baker Street. Nothing had been 
said during our drive, but the high, thin breath- 
ing of our new companion, and the claspings and 
unclaspings of his hands, spoke of the nervous ten- 
sion within him. 

"Here we are!" said Holmes cheerily as we filed 
into the room. "The fire looks very seasonable in 
this weather. You look cold, Mr. Ryder. Pray take 
the basket-chair. I will just put on my slippers be- 
fore we settle this little matter of yours. Now, then! 
You want to know what became of those geese?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Or rather, I fancy, of that goose. It was 
one bird, I imagine in which you were inter- 
ested — white, with a black bar across the tail." 

Ryder quivered with emotion. "Oh, sir," he 
cried, "can you tell me where it went to?" 

"It came here." 

"Here?" 

"Yes, and a most remarkable bird it proved. I 
don't wonder that you should take an interest in 
it. It laid an egg after it was dead — the bonniest, 
brightest little blue egg that ever was seen. I have 
it here in my museum." 

Our visitor staggered to his feet and clutched 
the mantelpiece with his right hand. Holmes un- 
locked his strong-box and held up the blue carbun- 
cle, which shone out like a star, with a cold, bril- 
liant, many-pointed radiance. Ryder stood glaring 
with a drawn face, uncertain whether to claim or 
to disown it. 

"The game's up, Ryder," said Holmes quietly. 
"Hold up, man, or you'll be into the fire! Give him 
an arm back into his chair, Watson. He's not got 
blood enough to go in for felony with impunity. 
Give him a dash of brandy. So! Now he looks a lit- 
tle more human. What a shrimp it is, to be sure!" 

For a moment he had staggered and nearly 
fallen, but the brandy brought a tinge of colour 



into his cheeks, and he sat staring with frightened 
eyes at his accuser. 

"I have almost every link in my hands, and all 
the proofs which I could possibly need, so there 
is little which you need tell me. Still, that little 
may as well be cleared up to make the case com- 
plete. You had heard, Ryder, of this blue stone of 
the Countess of Morcar's?" 

"It was Catherine Cusack who told me of it," 
said he in a crackling voice. 

"I see — her ladyship's waiting-maid. Well, the 
temptation of sudden wealth so easily acquired 
was too much for you, as it has been for better 
men before you; but you were not very scrupu- 
lous in the means you used. It seems to me, Ry- 
der, that there is the making of a very pretty vil- 
lain in you. You knew that this man Horner, the 
plumber, had been concerned in some such mat- 
ter before, and that suspicion would rest the more 
readily upon him. What did you do, then? You 
made some small job in my lady's room — you and 
your confederate Cusack — and you managed that 
he should be the man sent for. Then, when he had 
left, you rifled the jewel-case, raised the alarm, and 
had this unfortunate man arrested. You then — " 

Ryder threw himself down suddenly upon the 
rug and clutched at my companion's knees. "For 
God's sake, have mercy!" he shrieked. "Think of 
my father! Of my mother! It would break their 
hearts. I never went wrong before! I never will 
again. I swear it. I'll swear it on a Bible. Oh, don't 
bring it into court! For Christ's sake, don't!" 

"Get back into your chair!" said Holmes 
sternly. "It is very well to cringe and crawl now, 
but you thought little enough of this poor Horner 
in the dock for a crime of which he knew nothing." 

"I will fly, Mr. Holmes. I will leave the country, 
sir. Then the charge against him will break down." 

"Hum! We will talk about that. And now let 
us hear a true account of the next act. How came 
the stone into the goose, and how came the goose 
into the open market? Tell us the truth, for there 
lies your only hope of safety." 

Ryder passed his tongue over his parched lips. 
"I will tell you it just as it happened, sir," said 
he. "When Horner had been arrested, it seemed to 
me that it would be best for me to get away with 
the stone at once, for I did not know at what mo- 
ment the police might not take it into their heads 
to search me and my room. There was no place 
about the hotel where it would be safe. I went out, 



208 



The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 



as if on some commission, and I made for my sis- 
ter's house. She had married a man named Oak- 
shott, and lived in Brixton Road, where she fat- 
tened fowls for the market. All the way there ev- 
ery man I met seemed to me to be a policeman or 
a detective; and, for all that it was a cold night, the 
sweat was pouring down my face before I came to 
the Brixton Road. My sister asked me what was 
the matter, and why I was so pale; but I told her 
that I had been upset by the jewel robbery at the 
hotel. Then I went into the back yard and smoked 
a pipe and wondered what it would be best to do. 

"I had a friend once called Maudsley, who went 
to the bad, and has just been serving his time in 
Pentonville. One day he had met me, and fell into 
talk about the ways of thieves, and how they could 
get rid of what they stole. I knew that he would 
be true to me, for I knew one or two things about 
him; so I made up my mind to go right on to Kil- 
burn, where he lived, and take him into my confi- 
dence. He would show me how to turn the stone 
into money. But how to get to him in safety? I 
thought of the agonies I had gone through in com- 
ing from the hotel. I might at any moment be 
seized and searched, and there would be the stone 
in my waistcoat pocket. I was leaning against the 
wall at the time and looking at the geese which 
were waddling about round my feet, and suddenly 
an idea came into my head which showed me how 
I could beat the best detective that ever lived. 

"My sister had told me some weeks before that 
I might have the pick of her geese for a Christmas 
present, and I knew that she was always as good 
as her word. I would take my goose now, and in 
it I would carry my stone to Kilburn. There was 
a little shed in the yard, and behind this I drove 
one of the birds — a fine big one, white, with a 
barred tail. I caught it, and prying its bill open, 
I thrust the stone down its throat as far as my fin- 
ger could reach. The bird gave a gulp, and I felt 
the stone pass along its gullet and down into its 
crop. But the creature flapped and struggled, and 
out came my sister to know what was the matter. 
As I turned to speak to her the brute broke loose 
and fluttered off among the others. 

" 'Whatever were you doing with that bird, 
Jem?' says she. 

" 'Well,' said I, 'you said you'd give me one for 
Christmas, and I was feeling which was the fat- 
test.' 

" 'Oh,' says she, 'we've set yours aside for 
you — Jem's bird, we call it. It's the big white one 
over yonder. There's twenty-six of them, which 



makes one for you, and one for us, and two dozen 
for the market.' 

" 'Thank you, Maggie,' says I; 'but if it is all the 
same to you, I'd rather have that one I was han- 
dling just now.' 

" 'The other is a good three pound heavier,' 
said she, 'and we fattened it expressly for you.' 

" 'Never mind. I'll have the other, and I'll take 
it now,' said I. 

" 'Oh, just as you like,' said she, a little huffed. 
'Which is it you want, then?' 

" 'That white one with the barred tail, right in 
the middle of the flock.' 

" 'Oh, very well. Kill it and take it with you.' 

"Well, I did what she said, Mr. Holmes, and I 
carried the bird all the way to Kilburn. I told my 
pal what I had done, for he was a man that it was 
easy to tell a thing like that to. He laughed until he 
choked, and we got a knife and opened the goose. 
My heart turned to water, for there was no sign of 
the stone, and I knew that some terrible mistake 
had occurred. I left the bird, rushed back to my 
sister's, and hurried into the back yard. There was 
not a bird to be seen there. 

" 'Where are they all, Maggie?' I cried. 

" 'Gone to the dealer's, Jem.' 

" 'Which dealer's?' 

" 'Breckinridge, of Covent Garden.' 

" 'But was there another with a barred tail?' I 
asked, 'the same as the one I chose?' 

" 'Yes, Jem; there were two barred-tailed ones, 
and I could never tell them apart.' 

"Well, then, of course I saw it all, and I ran 
off as hard as my feet would carry me to this 
man Breckinridge; but he had sold the lot at once, 
and not one word would he tell me as to where 
they had gone. You heard him yourselves to-night. 
Well, he has always answered me like that. My sis- 
ter thinks that I am going mad. Sometimes I think 
that I am myself. And now — and now I am myself 
a branded thief, without ever having touched the 
wealth for which I sold my character. God help 
me! God help me!" He burst into convulsive sob- 
bing, with his face buried in his hands. 

There was a long silence, broken only by his 
heavy breathing and by the measured tapping of 
Sherlock Holmes' finger-tips upon the edge of the 
table. Then my friend rose and threw open the 
door. 

"Get out!" said he. 

"What, sir! Oh, Heaven bless you!" 



209 



"No more words. Get out!" 

And no more words were needed. There was a 
rush, a clatter upon the stairs, the bang of a door, 
and the crisp rattle of running footfalls from the 
street. 

"After all, Watson," said Holmes, reaching up 
his hand for his clay pipe, "I am not retained by the 
police to supply their deficiencies. If Horner were 
in danger it would be another thing; but this fel- 
low will not appear against him, and the case must 



collapse. I suppose that I am commuting a felony, 
but it is just possible that I am saving a soul. This 
fellow will not go wrong again; he is too terribly 
frightened. Send him to jail now, and you make 
him a jail-bird for life. Besides, it is the season of 
forgiveness. Chance has put in our way a most 
singular and whimsical problem, and its solution 
is its own reward. If you will have the goodness 
to touch the bell, Doctor, we will begin another in- 
vestigation, in which, also a bird will be the chief 
feature." 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 




' N glancing over my notes of the seventy 
odd cases in which I have during the 
last eight years studied the methods of 
my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find many 
tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, 
but none commonplace; for, working as he did 
rather for the love of his art than for the acquire- 
ment of wealth, he refused to associate himself 
with any investigation which did not tend towards 
the unusual, and even the fantastic. Of all these 
varied cases, however, I cannot recall any which 
presented more singular features than that which 
was associated with the well-known Surrey fam- 
ily of the Roylotts of Stoke Moran. The events in 
question occurred in the early days of my associ- 
ation with Holmes, when we were sharing rooms 
as bachelors in Baker Street. It is possible that I 
might have placed them upon record before, but 
a promise of secrecy was made at the time, from 
which I have only been freed during the last month 
by the untimely death of the lady to whom the 
pledge was given. It is perhaps as well that the 
facts should now come to light, for I have reasons 
to know that there are widespread rumours as to 
the death of Dr. Grimesby Roylott which tend to 
make the matter even more terrible than the truth. 

It was early in April in the year '83 that I woke 
one morning to find Sherlock Holmes standing, 
fully dressed, by the side of my bed. He was a 
late riser, as a rule, and as the clock on the man- 
telpiece showed me that it was only a quarter-past 
seven, I blinked up at him in some surprise, and 
perhaps just a little resentment, for I was myself 
regular in my habits. 

"Very sorry to knock you up, Watson," said he, 
"but it's the common lot this morning. Mrs. Hud- 
son has been knocked up, she retorted upon me, 
and I on you." 

"What is it, then — a fire?" 

"No; a client. It seems that a young lady has 
arrived in a considerable state of excitement, who 
insists upon seeing me. She is waiting now in 
the sitting-room. Now, when young ladies wander 
about the metropolis at this hour of the morning, 
and knock sleepy people up out of their beds, I 
presume that it is something very pressing which 
they have to communicate. Should it prove to be 
an interesting case, you would, I am sure, wish to 
follow it from the outset. I thought, at any rate, 
that I should call you and give you the chance." 

"My dear fellow, I would not miss it for any- 
thing." 

I had no keener pleasure than in following 
Holmes in his professional investigations, and in 



admiring the rapid deductions, as swift as intu- 
itions, and yet always founded on a logical ba- 
sis with which he unravelled the problems which 
were submitted to him. I rapidly threw on my 
clothes and was ready in a few minutes to accom- 
pany my friend down to the sitting-room. A lady 
dressed in black and heavily veiled, who had been 
sitting in the window, rose as we entered. 

"Good-morning, madam," said Holmes cheer- 
ily. "My name is Sherlock Holmes. This is my 
intimate friend and associate, Dr. Watson, before 
whom you can speak as freely as before myself. 
Ha! I am glad to see that Mrs. Hudson has had 
the good sense to light the fire. Pray draw up to 
it, and I shall order you a cup of hot coffee, for I 
observe that you are shivering." 

"It is not cold which makes me shiver," said 
the woman in a low voice, changing her seat as 
requested. 

"What, then?" 

"It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror." She raised 
her veil as she spoke, and we could see that she 
was indeed in a pitiable state of agitation, her face 
all drawn and grey, with restless frightened eyes, 
like those of some hunted animal. Her features 
and figure were those of a woman of thirty, but her 
hair was shot with premature grey, and her expres- 
sion was weary and haggard. Sherlock Holmes ran 
her over with one of his quick, all-comprehensive 
glances. 

"You must not fear," said he soothingly, bend- 
ing forward and patting her forearm. "We shall 
soon set matters right, I have no doubt. You have 
come in by train this morning, I see." 

"You know me, then?" 

"No, but I observe the second half of a return 
ticket in the palm of your left glove. You must 
have started early, and yet you had a good drive in 
a dog-cart, along heavy roads, before you reached 
the station." 

The lady gave a violent start and stared in be- 
wilderment at my companion. 

"There is no mystery, my dear madam," said 
he, smiling. "The left arm of your jacket is spat- 
tered with mud in no less than seven places. The 
marks are perfectly fresh. There is no vehicle save 
a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way, and 
then only when you sit on the left-hand side of the 
driver." 

"Whatever your reasons may be, you are per- 
fectly correct," said she. "I started from home be- 
fore six, reached Leatherhead at twenty past, and 
came in by the first train to Waterloo. Sir, I can 



213 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



stand this strain no longer; I shall go mad if it con- 
tinues. I have no one to turn to — none, save only 
one, who cares for me, and he, poor fellow, can 
be of little aid. I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes; 
I have heard of you from Mrs. Farintosh, whom 
you helped in the hour of her sore need. It was 
from her that I had your address. Oh, sir, do 
you not think that you could help me, too, and 
at least throw a little light through the dense dark- 
ness which surrounds me? At present it is out of 
my power to reward you for your services, but in 
a month or six weeks I shall be married, with the 
control of my own income, and then at least you 
shall not find me ungrateful." 

Holmes turned to his desk and, unlocking it, 
drew out a small case-book, which he consulted. 

"Farintosh," said he. "Ah yes, I recall the case; 
it was concerned with an opal tiara. I think it was 
before your time, Watson. I can only say, madam, 
that I shall be happy to devote the same care to 
your case as I did to that of your friend. As to 
reward, my profession is its own reward; but you 
are at liberty to defray whatever expenses I may 
be put to, at the time which suits you best. And 
now I beg that you will lay before us everything 
that may help us in forming an opinion upon the 
matter." 

"Alas!" replied our visitor, "the very horror of 
my situation lies in the fact that my fears are so 
vague, and my suspicions depend so entirely upon 
small points, which might seem trivial to another, 
that even he to whom of all others I have a right to 
look for help and advice looks upon all that I tell 
him about it as the fancies of a nervous woman. 
He does not say so, but I can read it from his sooth- 
ing answers and averted eyes. But I have heard, 
Mr. Holmes, that you can see deeply into the man- 
ifold wickedness of the human heart. You may 
advise me how to walk amid the dangers which 
encompass me." 

"I am all attention, madam." 

"My name is Helen Stoner, and I am living with 
my stepfather, who is the last survivor of one of 
the oldest Saxon families in England, the Roylotts 
of Stoke Moran, on the western border of Surrey." 

Holmes nodded his head. "The name is famil- 
iar to me," said he. 

"The family was at one time among the richest 
in England, and the estates extended over the bor- 
ders into Berkshire in the north, and Hampshire in 
the west. In the last century, however, four succes- 
sive heirs were of a dissolute and wasteful disposi- 
tion, and the family ruin was eventually completed 



by a gambler in the days of the Regency. Nothing 
was left save a few acres of ground, and the two- 
hundred-year-old house, which is itself crushed 
under a heavy mortgage. The last squire dragged 
out his existence there, living the horrible life of 
an aristocratic pauper; but his only son, my stepfa- 
ther, seeing that he must adapt himself to the new 
conditions, obtained an advance from a relative, 
which enabled him to take a medical degree and 
went out to Calcutta, where, by his professional 
skill and his force of character, he established a 
large practice. In a fit of anger, however, caused by 
some robberies which had been perpetrated in the 
house, he beat his native butler to death and nar- 
rowly escaped a capital sentence. As it was, he suf- 
fered a long term of imprisonment and afterwards 
returned to England a morose and disappointed 
man. 

"When Dr. Roylott was in India he married my 
mother, Mrs. Stoner, the young widow of Major- 
General Stoner, of the Bengal Artillery. My sister 
Julia and I were twins, and we were only two years 
old at the time of my mother's re-marriage. She 
had a considerable sum of money — not less than 
£1000 a year — and this she bequeathed to Dr. Roy- 
lott entirely while we resided with him, with a pro- 
vision that a certain annual sum should be allowed 
to each of us in the event of our marriage. Shortly 
after our return to England my mother died — she 
was killed eight years ago in a railway accident 
near Crewe. Dr. Roylott then abandoned his at- 
tempts to establish himself in practice in London 
and took us to live with him in the old ances- 
tral house at Stoke Moran. The money which my 
mother had left was enough for all our wants, and 
there seemed to be no obstacle to our happiness. 

"But a terrible change came over our stepfather 
about this time. Instead of making friends and ex- 
changing visits with our neighbours, who had at 
first been overjoyed to see a Roylott of Stoke Moran 
back in the old family seat, he shut himself up in 
his house and seldom came out save to indulge in 
ferocious quarrels with whoever might cross his 
path. Violence of temper approaching to mania 
has been hereditary in the men of the family, and 
in my stepfather's case it had, I believe, been in- 
tensified by his long residence in the tropics. A se- 
ries of disgraceful brawls took place, two of which 
ended in the police-court, until at last he became 
the terror of the village, and the folks would fly at 
his approach, for he is a man of immense strength, 
and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger. 

"Last week he hurled the local blacksmith over 
a parapet into a stream, and it was only by pay- 



214 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



ing over all the money which I could gather to- 
gether that I was able to avert another public expo- 
sure. He had no friends at all save the wandering 
gypsies, and he would give these vagabonds leave 
to encamp upon the few acres of bramble-covered 
land which represent the family estate, and would 
accept in return the hospitality of their tents, wan- 
dering away with them sometimes for weeks on 
end. He has a passion also for Indian animals, 
which are sent over to him by a correspondent, 
and he has at this moment a cheetah and a ba- 
boon, which wander freely over his grounds and 
are feared by the villagers almost as much as their 
master. 

"You can imagine from what I say that my poor 
sister Julia and I had no great pleasure in our lives. 
No servant would stay with us, and for a long time 
we did all the work of the house. She was but 
thirty at the time of her death, and yet her hair 
had already begun to whiten, even as mine has." 

"Your sister is dead, then?" 

"She died just two years ago, and it is of her 
death that I wish to speak to you. You can under- 
stand that, living the life which I have described, 
we were little likely to see anyone of our own 
age and position. We had, however, an aunt, my 
mother's maiden sister, Miss Honoria Westphail, 
who lives near Harrow, and we were occasionally 
allowed to pay short visits at this lady's house. Ju- 
lia went there at Christmas two years ago, and met 
there a half-pay major of marines, to whom she 
became engaged. My stepfather learned of the en- 
gagement when my sister returned and offered no 
objection to the marriage; but within a fortnight of 
the day which had been fixed for the wedding, the 
terrible event occurred which has deprived me of 
my only companion." 

Sherlock Holmes had been leaning back in his 
chair with his eyes closed and his head sunk in 
a cushion, but he half opened his lids now and 
glanced across at his visitor. 

"Pray be precise as to details," said he. 

"It is easy for me to be so, for every event 
of that dreadful time is seared into my memory. 
The manor-house is, as I have already said, very 
old, and only one wing is now inhabited. The 
bedrooms in this wing are on the ground floor, 
the sitting-rooms being in the central block of the 
buildings. Of these bedrooms the first is Dr. Roy- 
lott's, the second my sister's, and the third my 
own. There is no communication between them, 
but they all open out into the same corridor. Do I 
make myself plain?" 



"Perfectly so." 

"The windows of the three rooms open out 
upon the lawn. That fatal night Dr. Roylott had 
gone to his room early, though we knew that he 
had not retired to rest, for my sister was troubled 
by the smell of the strong Indian cigars which it 
was his custom to smoke. She left her room, there- 
fore, and came into mine, where she sat for some 
time, chatting about her approaching wedding. At 
eleven o'clock she rose to leave me, but she paused 
at the door and looked back. 

" 'Tell me, Helen,' said she, 'have you ever 
heard anyone whistle in the dead of the night?' 

" 'Never,' said I. 

" T suppose that you could not possibly whis- 
tle, yourself, in your sleep?' 

" 'Certainly not. But why?' 

" 'Because during the last few nights I have 
always, about three in the morning, heard a 
low, clear whistle. I am a light sleeper, and it 
has awakened me. I cannot tell where it came 
from — perhaps from the next room, perhaps from 
the lawn. I thought that I would just ask you 
whether you had heard it.' 

" 'No, I have not. It must be those wretched 
gipsies in the plantation.' 

" 'Very likely. And yet if it were on the lawn, I 
wonder that you did not hear it also.' 

" 'Ah, but I sleep more heavily than you.' 

" 'Well, it is of no great consequence, at any 
rate.' She smiled back at me, closed my door, and 
a few moments later I heard her key turn in the 
lock." 

"Indeed," said Holmes. "Was it your custom 
always to lock yourselves in at night?" 

"Always." 

"And why?" 

"I think that I mentioned to you that the doctor 
kept a cheetah and a baboon. We had no feeling of 
security unless our doors were locked." 

"Quite so. Pray proceed with your statement." 

"I could not sleep that night. A vague feeling 
of impending misfortune impressed me. My sis- 
ter and I, you will recollect, were twins, and you 
know how subtle are the links which bind two 
souls which are so closely allied. It was a wild 
night. The wind was howling outside, and the rain 
was beating and splashing against the windows. 
Suddenly, amid all the hubbub of the gale, there 
burst forth the wild scream of a terrified woman. 
I knew that it was my sister's voice. I sprang 
from my bed, wrapped a shawl round me, and 
rushed into the corridor. As I opened my door 



215 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



I seemed to hear a low whistle, such as my sis- 
ter described, and a few moments later a clanging 
sound, as if a mass of metal had fallen. As I ran 
down the passage, my sister 's door was unlocked, 
and revolved slowly upon its hinges. I stared at 
it horror-stricken, not knowing what was about to 
issue from it. By the light of the corridor-lamp 
I saw my sister appear at the opening, her face 
blanched with terror, her hands groping for help, 
her whole figure swaying to and fro like that of a 
drunkard. I ran to her and threw my arms round 
her, but at that moment her knees seemed to give 
way and she fell to the ground. She writhed as one 
who is in terrible pain, and her limbs were dread- 
fully convulsed. At first I thought that she had 
not recognised me, but as I bent over her she sud- 
denly shrieked out in a voice which I shall never 
forget, 'Oh, my God! Helen! It was the band! The 
speckled band!' There was something else which 
she would fain have said, and she stabbed with 
her finger into the air in the direction of the doc- 
tor's room, but a fresh convulsion seized her and 
choked her words. I rushed out, calling loudly for 
my stepfather, and I met him hastening from his 
room in his dressing-gown. When he reached my 
sister's side she was unconscious, and though he 
poured brandy down her throat and sent for med- 
ical aid from the village, all efforts were in vain, 
for she slowly sank and died without having re- 
covered her consciousness. Such was the dreadful 
end of my beloved sister." 

"One moment," said Holmes, "are you sure 
about this whistle and metallic sound? Could you 
swear to it?" 

"That was what the county coroner asked me 
at the inquiry. It is my strong impression that I 
heard it, and yet, among the crash of the gale and 
the creaking of an old house, I may possibly have 
been deceived." 

"Was your sister dressed?" 

"No, she was in her night-dress. In her right 
hand was found the charred stump of a match, and 
in her left a match-box." 

"Showing that she had struck a light and 
looked about her when the alarm took place. That 
is important. And what conclusions did the coro- 
ner come to?" 

"He investigated the case with great care, for 
Dr. Roylott's conduct had long been notorious in 
the county, but he was unable to find any satisfac- 
tory cause of death. My evidence showed that the 
door had been fastened upon the inner side, and 



the windows were blocked by old-fashioned shut- 
ters with broad iron bars, which were secured ev- 
ery night. The walls were carefully sounded, and 
were shown to be quite solid all round, and the 
flooring was also thoroughly examined, with the 
same result. The chimney is wide, but is barred 
up by four large staples. It is certain, therefore, 
that my sister was quite alone when she met her 
end. Besides, there were no marks of any violence 
upon her. " 

"How about poison?" 

"The doctors examined her for it, but without 
success." 

"What do you think that this unfortunate lady 
died of, then?" 

"It is my belief that she died of pure fear and 
nervous shock, though what it was that frightened 
her I cannot imagine." 

"Were there gipsies in the plantation at the 
time?" 

"Yes, there are nearly always some there." 

"Ah, and what did you gather from this allu- 
sion to a band — a speckled band?" 

"Sometimes I have thought that it was merely 
the wild talk of delirium, sometimes that it may 
have referred to some band of people, perhaps to 
these very gipsies in the plantation. I do not know 
whether the spotted handkerchiefs which so many 
of them wear over their heads might have sug- 
gested the strange adjective which she used." 

Holmes shook his head like a man who is far 
from being satisfied. 

"These are very deep waters," said he; "pray 
go on with your narrative." 

"Two years have passed since then, and my life 
has been until lately lonelier than ever. A month 
ago, however, a dear friend, whom I have known 
for many years, has done me the honour to ask my 
hand in marriage. His name is Armitage — Percy 
Armitage — the second son of Mr. Armitage, of 
Crane Water, near Reading. My stepfather has of- 
fered no opposition to the match, and we are to be 
married in the course of the spring. Two days ago 
some repairs were started in the west wing of the 
building, and my bedroom wall has been pierced, 
so that I have had to move into the chamber in 
which my sister died, and to sleep in the very bed 
in which she slept. Imagine, then, my thrill of ter- 
ror when last night, as I lay awake, thinking over 
her terrible fate, I suddenly heard in the silence 
of the night the low whistle which had been the 
herald of her own death. I sprang up and lit the 



216 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



lamp, but nothing was to be seen in the room. I 
was too shaken to go to bed again, however, so I 
dressed, and as soon as it was daylight I slipped 
down, got a dog-cart at the Crown Inn, which is 
opposite, and drove to Leatherhead, from whence 
I have come on this morning with the one object of 
seeing you and asking your advice." 

"You have done wisely," said my friend. "But 
have you told me all?" 

"Yes, all." 

"Miss Roylott, you have not. You are screening 
your stepfather." 

"Why, what do you mean?" 

For answer Holmes pushed back the frill of 
black lace which fringed the hand that lay upon 
our visitor's knee. Five little livid spots, the marks 
of four fingers and a thumb, were printed upon 
the white wrist. 

"You have been cruelly used," said Holmes. 

The lady coloured deeply and covered over her 
injured wrist. "He is a hard man," she said, "and 
perhaps he hardly knows his own strength." 

There was a long silence, during which Holmes 
leaned his chin upon his hands and stared into the 
crackling fire. 

"This is a very deep business," he said at last. 
"There are a thousand details which I should de- 
sire to know before I decide upon our course of 
action. Yet we have not a moment to lose. If we 
were to come to Stoke Moran to-day, would it be 
possible for us to see over these rooms without the 
knowledge of your stepfather?" 

"As it happens, he spoke of coming into town 
to-day upon some most important business. It is 
probable that he will be away all day, and that 
there would be nothing to disturb you. We have 
a housekeeper now, but she is old and foolish, and 
I could easily get her out of the way." 

"Excellent. You are not averse to this trip, Wat- 
son?" 

"By no means." 

"Then we shall both come. What are you going 
to do yourself?" 

"I have one or two things which I would wish 
to do now that I am in town. But I shall return by 
the twelve o'clock train, so as to be there in time 
for your coming." 

"And you may expect us early in the afternoon. 
I have myself some small business matters to at- 
tend to. Will you not wait and breakfast?" 



"No, I must go. My heart is lightened already 
since I have confided my trouble to you. I shall 
look forward to seeing you again this afternoon." 
She dropped her thick black veil over her face and 
glided from the room. 

"And what do you think of it all, Watson?" 
asked Sherlock Holmes, leaning back in his chair. 

"It seems to me to be a most dark and sinister 
business." 

"Dark enough and sinister enough." 

"Yet if the lady is correct in saying that the 
flooring and walls are sound, and that the door, 
window, and chimney are impassable, then her sis- 
ter must have been undoubtedly alone when she 
met her mysterious end." 

"What becomes, then, of these nocturnal whis- 
tles, and what of the very peculiar words of the 
dying woman?" 

"I cannot think." 

"When you combine the ideas of whistles at 
night, the presence of a band of gipsies who are 
on intimate terms with this old doctor, the fact that 
we have every reason to believe that the doctor has 
an interest in preventing his stepdaughter's mar- 
riage, the dying allusion to a band, and, finally, the 
fact that Miss Helen Stoner heard a metallic clang, 
which might have been caused by one of those 
metal bars that secured the shutters falling back 
into its place, I think that there is good ground to 
think that the mystery may be cleared along those 
lines." 

"But what, then, did the gipsies do?" 

"I cannot imagine." 

"I see many objections to any such theory" 

"And so do I. It is precisely for that reason that 
we are going to Stoke Moran this day. I want to 
see whether the objections are fatal, or if they may 
be explained away. But what in the name of the 
devil!" 

The ejaculation had been drawn from my com- 
panion by the fact that our door had been sud- 
denly dashed open, and that a huge man had 
framed himself in the aperture. His costume was 
a peculiar mixture of the professional and of the 
agricultural, having a black top-hat, a long frock- 
coat, and a pair of high gaiters, with a hunting- 
crop swinging in his hand. So tall was he that 
his hat actually brushed the cross bar of the door- 
way, and his breadth seemed to span it across from 
side to side. A large face, seared with a thousand 
wrinkles, burned yellow with the sun, and marked 
with every evil passion, was turned from one to 



217 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



the other of us, while his deep-set, bile-shot eyes, 
and his high, thin, fleshless nose, gave him some- 
what the resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey. 

"Which of you is Holmes?" asked this appari- 
tion. 

"My name, sir; but you have the advantage of 
me," said my companion quietly. 

"I am Dr. Grimesby Roylott, of Stoke Moran." 

"Indeed, Doctor," said Holmes blandly. "Pray 
take a seat." 

"I will do nothing of the kind. My stepdaugh- 
ter has been here. I have traced her. What has she 
been saying to you?" 

"It is a little cold for the time of the year," said 
Holmes. 

"What has she been saying to you?" screamed 
the old man furiously. 

"But I have heard that the crocuses promise 
well," continued my companion imperturbably 

"Ha! You put me off, do you?" said our new 
visitor, taking a step forward and shaking his 
hunting-crop. "I know you, you scoundrel! I have 
heard of you before. You are Holmes, the med- 
dler." 

My friend smiled. 

"Holmes, the busybody!" 

His smile broadened. 

"Holmes, the Scotland Yard Jack-in-office!" 

Holmes chuckled heartily. "Your conversation 
is most entertaining," said he. "When you go out 
close the door, for there is a decided draught." 

"I will go when I have said my say. Don't you 
dare to meddle with my affairs. I know that Miss 
Stoner has been here. I traced her! I am a dan- 
gerous man to fall foul of! See here." He stepped 
swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into 
a curve with his huge brown hands. 

"See that you keep yourself out of my grip," 
he snarled, and hurling the twisted poker into the 
fireplace he strode out of the room. 

"He seems a very amiable person," said 
Holmes, laughing. "I am not quite so bulky, but 
if he had remained I might have shown him that 
my grip was not much more feeble than his own." 
As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with 
a sudden effort, straightened it out again. 

"Fancy his having the insolence to confound 
me with the official detective force! This incident 
gives zest to our investigation, however, and I only 
trust that our little friend will not suffer from her 
imprudence in allowing this brute to trace her. 



And now, Watson, we shall order breakfast, and af- 
terwards I shall walk down to Doctors' Commons, 
where I hope to get some data which may help us 
in this matter." 

It was nearly one o'clock when Sherlock 
Holmes returned from his excursion. He held in 
his hand a sheet of blue paper, scrawled over with 
notes and figures. 

"I have seen the will of the deceased wife," said 
he. "To determine its exact meaning I have been 
obliged to work out the present prices of the in- 
vestments with which it is concerned. The total 
income, which at the time of the wife's death was 
little short of £1100, is now, through the fall in agri- 
cultural prices, not more than £750. Each daughter 
can claim an income of £250, in case of marriage. 
It is evident, therefore, that if both girls had mar- 
ried, this beauty would have had a mere pittance, 
while even one of them would cripple him to a 
very serious extent. My morning's work has not 
been wasted, since it has proved that he has the 
very strongest motives for standing in the way of 
anything of the sort. And now, Watson, this is too 
serious for dawdling, especially as the old man is 
aware that we are interesting ourselves in his af- 
fairs; so if you are ready, we shall call a cab and 
drive to Waterloo. I should be very much obliged 
if you would slip your revolver into your pocket. 
An Eley's No. 2 is an excellent argument with gen- 
tlemen who can twist steel pokers into knots. That 
and a tooth-brush are, I think, all that we need." 

At Waterloo we were fortunate in catching a 
train for Leatherhead, where we hired a trap at the 
station inn and drove for four or five miles through 
the lovely Surrey lanes. It was a perfect day, with a 
bright sun and a few fleecy clouds in the heavens. 
The trees and wayside hedges were just throwing 
out their first green shoots, and the air was full of 
the pleasant smell of the moist earth. To me at least 
there was a strange contrast between the sweet 
promise of the spring and this sinister quest upon 
which we were engaged. My companion sat in the 
front of the trap, his arms folded, his hat pulled 
down over his eyes, and his chin sunk upon his 
breast, buried in the deepest thought. Suddenly, 
however, he started, tapped me on the shoulder, 
and pointed over the meadows. 

"Look there!" said he. 

A heavily timbered park stretched up in a gen- 
tle slope, thickening into a grove at the highest 
point. From amid the branches there jutted out 
the grey gables and high roof-tree of a very old 
mansion. 

"Stoke Moran?" said he. 



218 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



"Yes, sir, that be the house of Dr. Grimesby 
Roylott," remarked the driver. 

"There is some building going on there," said 
Holmes; "that is where we are going." 

"There's the village," said the driver, point- 
ing to a cluster of roofs some distance to the left; 
"but if you want to get to the house, you'll find 
it shorter to get over this stile, and so by the foot- 
path over the fields. There it is, where the lady is 
walking." 

"And the lady, I fancy, is Miss Stoner," ob- 
served Holmes, shading his eyes. "Yes, I think we 
had better do as you suggest." 

We got off, paid our fare, and the trap rattled 
back on its way to Leatherhead. 

"I thought it as well," said Holmes as we 
climbed the stile, "that this fellow should think we 
had come here as architects, or on some definite 
business. It may stop his gossip. Good-afternoon, 
Miss Stoner. You see that we have been as good as 
our word." 

Our client of the morning had hurried forward 
to meet us with a face which spoke her joy. "I have 
been waiting so eagerly for you," she cried, shak- 
ing hands with us warmly. "All has turned out 
splendidly. Dr. Roylott has gone to town, and it is 
unlikely that he will be back before evening." 

"We have had the pleasure of making the doc- 
tor's acquaintance," said Holmes, and in a few 
words he sketched out what had occurred. Miss 
Stoner turned white to the lips as she listened. 

"Good heavens!" she cried, "he has followed 
me, then." 

"So it appears." 

"He is so cunning that I never know when I am 
safe from him. What will he say when he returns?" 

"He must guard himself, for he may find that 
there is someone more cunning than himself upon 
his track. You must lock yourself up from him to- 
night. If he is violent, we shall take you away to 
your aunt's at Harrow. Now, we must make the 
best use of our time, so kindly take us at once to 
the rooms which we are to examine." 

The building was of grey, lichen-blotched 
stone, with a high central portion and two curving 
wings, like the claws of a crab, thrown out on each 
side. In one of these wings the windows were bro- 
ken and blocked with wooden boards, while the 
roof was partly caved in, a picture of ruin. The 
central portion was in little better repair, but the 
right-hand block was comparatively modern, and 
the blinds in the windows, with the blue smoke 



curling up from the chimneys, showed that this 
was where the family resided. Some scaffolding 
had been erected against the end wall, and the 
stone-work had been broken into, but there were 
no signs of any workmen at the moment of our 
visit. Holmes walked slowly up and down the ill- 
trimmed lawn and examined with deep attention 
the outsides of the windows. 

"This, I take it, belongs to the room in which 
you used to sleep, the centre one to your sister's, 
and the one next to the main building to Dr. Roy- 
lott's chamber?" 

"Exactly so. But I am now sleeping in the mid- 
dle one." 

"Pending the alterations, as I understand. By 
the way, there does not seem to be any very press- 
ing need for repairs at that end wall." 

"There were none. I believe that it was an ex- 
cuse to move me from my room." 

"Ah! that is suggestive. Now, on the other side 
of this narrow wing runs the corridor from which 
these three rooms open. There are windows in it, 
of course?" 

"Yes, but very small ones. Too narrow for any- 
one to pass through." 

"As you both locked your doors at night, your 
rooms were unapproachable from that side. Now, 
would you have the kindness to go into your room 
and bar your shutters?" 

Miss Stoner did so, and Holmes, after a careful 
examination through the open window, endeav- 
oured in every way to force the shutter open, but 
without success. There was no slit through which 
a knife could be passed to raise the bar. Then 
with his lens he tested the hinges, but they were of 
solid iron, built firmly into the massive masonry. 
"Hum!" said he, scratching his chin in some per- 
plexity, "my theory certainly presents some diffi- 
culties. No one could pass these shutters if they 
were bolted. Well, we shall see if the inside throws 
any light upon the matter. " 

A small side door led into the whitewashed 
corridor from which the three bedrooms opened. 
Holmes refused to examine the third chamber, so 
we passed at once to the second, that in which 
Miss Stoner was now sleeping, and in which her 
sister had met with her fate. It was a homely 
little room, with a low ceiling and a gaping fire- 
place, after the fashion of old country-houses. A 
brown chest of drawers stood in one corner, a 
narrow white-counterpaned bed in another, and 
a dressing-table on the left-hand side of the win- 
dow. These articles, with two small wicker-work 



219 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



chairs, made up all the furniture in the room save 
for a square of Wilton carpet in the centre. The 
boards round and the panelling of the walls were 
of brown, worm-eaten oak, so old and discoloured 
that it may have dated from the original building 
of the house. Holmes drew one of the chairs into 
a corner and sat silent, while his eyes travelled 
round and round and up and down, taking in ev- 
ery detail of the apartment. 

"Where does that bell communicate with?" he 
asked at last pointing to a thick bell-rope which 
hung down beside the bed, the tassel actually ly- 
ing upon the pillow. 

"It goes to the housekeeper's room." 

"It looks newer than the other things?" 

"Yes, it was only put there a couple of years 
ago." 

"Your sister asked for it, I suppose?" 

"No, I never heard of her using it. We used 
always to get what we wanted for ourselves." 

"Indeed, it seemed unnecessary to put so nice 
a bell-pull there. You will excuse me for a few 
minutes while I satisfy myself as to this floor." He 
threw himself down upon his face with his lens in 
his hand and crawled swiftly backward and for- 
ward, examining minutely the cracks between the 
boards. Then he did the same with the wood-work 
with which the chamber was panelled. Finally he 
walked over to the bed and spent some time in 
staring at it and in running his eye up and down 
the wall. Finally he took the bell-rope in his hand 
and gave it a brisk tug. 

"Why, it's a dummy," said he. 

"Won't it ring?" 

"No, it is not even attached to a wire. This is 
very interesting. You can see now that it is fas- 
tened to a hook just above where the little opening 
for the ventilator is." 

"How very absurd! I never noticed that be- 
fore." 

"Very strange!" muttered Holmes, pulling at 
the rope. "There are one or two very singular 
points about this room. For example, what a fool 
a builder must be to open a ventilator into another 
room, when, with the same trouble, he might have 
communicated with the outside air!" 

"That is also quite modern," said the lady. 

"Done about the same time as the bell-rope?" 
remarked Holmes. 

"Yes, there were several little changes carried 
out about that time." 



"They seem to have been of a most interest- 
ing character — dummy bell-ropes, and ventilators 
which do not ventilate. With your permission, 
Miss Stoner, we shall now carry our researches into 
the inner apartment." 

Dr. Grimesby Roylott's chamber was larger 
than that of his step-daughter, but was as plainly 
furnished. A camp-bed, a small wooden shelf full 
of books, mostly of a technical character, an arm- 
chair beside the bed, a plain wooden chair against 
the wall, a round table, and a large iron safe were 
the principal things which met the eye. Holmes 
walked slowly round and examined each and all 
of them with the keenest interest. 

"What's in here?" he asked, tapping the safe. 
"My stepfather's business papers." 
"Oh! you have seen inside, then?" 

"Only once, some years ago. I remember that 
it was full of papers." 

"There isn't a cat in it, for example?" 

"No. What a strange idea!" 

"Well, look at this!" He took up a small saucer 
of milk which stood on the top of it. 

"No; we don't keep a cat. But there is a cheetah 
and a baboon." 

"Ah, yes, of course! Well, a cheetah is just a big 
cat, and yet a saucer of milk does not go very far in 
satisfying its wants, I daresay. There is one point 
which I should wish to determine." He squatted 
down in front of the wooden chair and examined 
the seat of it with the greatest attention. 

"Thank you. That is quite settled," said he, ris- 
ing and putting his lens in his pocket. "Hullo! 
Here is something interesting!" 

The object which had caught his eye was a 
small dog lash hung on one corner of the bed. The 
lash, however, was curled upon itself and tied so 
as to make a loop of whipcord. 

"What do you make of that, Watson?" 
"It's a common enough lash. But I don't know 
why it should be tied." 

"That is not quite so common, is it? Ah, me! it's 
a wicked world, and when a clever man turns his 
brains to crime it is the worst of all. I think that I 
have seen enough now, Miss Stoner, and with your 
permission we shall walk out upon the lawn." 

I had never seen my friend's face so grim or his 
brow so dark as it was when we turned from the 
scene of this investigation. We had walked several 
times up and down the lawn, neither Miss Stoner 
nor myself liking to break in upon his thoughts 
before he roused himself from his reverie. 



220 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



"It is very essential, Miss Stoner," said he, "that 
you should absolutely follow my advice in every 
respect." 

"I shall most certainly do so." 

"The matter is too serious for any hesitation. 
Your life may depend upon your compliance." 

"I assure you that I am in your hands." 

"In the first place, both my friend and I must 
spend the night in your room." 

Both Miss Stoner and I gazed at him in aston- 
ishment. 

"Yes, it must be so. Let me explain. I believe 
that that is the village inn over there?" 

"Yes, that is the Crown." 

"Very good. Your windows would be visible 
from there?" 

"Certainly." 

"You must confine yourself to your room, on 
pretence of a headache, when your stepfather 
comes back. Then when you hear him retire for 
the night, you must open the shutters of your win- 
dow, undo the hasp, put your lamp there as a sig- 
nal to us, and then withdraw quietly with every- 
thing which you are likely to want into the room 
which you used to occupy. I have no doubt that, 
in spite of the repairs, you could manage there for 
one night." 

"Oh, yes, easily." 

"The rest you will leave in our hands." 

"But what will you do?" 

"We shall spend the night in your room, and 
we shall investigate the cause of this noise which 
has disturbed you." 

"I believe, Mr. Holmes, that you have already 
made up your mind," said Miss Stoner, laying her 
hand upon my companion's sleeve. 

"Perhaps I have." 

"Then, for pity's sake, tell me what was the 
cause of my sister's death." 

"I should prefer to have clearer proofs before I 
speak." 

"You can at least tell me whether my own 
thought is correct, and if she died from some sud- 
den fright." 

"No, I do not think so. I think that there was 
probably some more tangible cause. And now, 
Miss Stoner, we must leave you for if Dr. Roylott 
returned and saw us our journey would be in vain. 
Good-bye, and be brave, for if you will do what I 



have told you, you may rest assured that we shall 
soon drive away the dangers that threaten you." 

Sherlock Holmes and I had no difficulty in en- 
gaging a bedroom and sitting-room at the Crown 
Inn. They were on the upper floor, and from our 
window we could command a view of the avenue 
gate, and of the inhabited wing of Stoke Moran 
Manor House. At dusk we saw Dr. Grimesby Roy- 
lott drive past, his huge form looming up beside 
the little figure of the lad who drove him. The boy 
had some slight difficulty in undoing the heavy 
iron gates, and we heard the hoarse roar of the 
doctor's voice and saw the fury with which he 
shook his clinched fists at him. The trap drove 
on, and a few minutes later we saw a sudden light 
spring up among the trees as the lamp was lit in 
one of the sitting-rooms. 

"Do you know, Watson," said Holmes as we sat 
together in the gathering darkness, "I have really 
some scruples as to taking you to-night. There is a 
distinct element of danger." 

"Can I be of assistance?" 

"Your presence might be invaluable." 

"Then I shall certainly come." 

"It is very kind of you." 

"You speak of danger. You have evidently seen 
more in these rooms than was visible to me." 

"No, but I fancy that I may have deduced a lit- 
tle more. I imagine that you saw all that I did." 

"I saw nothing remarkable save the bell-rope, 
and what purpose that could answer I confess is 
more than I can imagine." 

"You saw the ventilator, too?" 

"Yes, but I do not think that it is such a very un- 
usual thing to have a small opening between two 
rooms. It was so small that a rat could hardly pass 
through." 

"I knew that we should find a ventilator before 
ever we came to Stoke Moran." 

"My dear Holmes!" 

"Oh, yes, I did. You remember in her statement 
she said that her sister could smell Dr. Roylott's 
cigar. Now, of course that suggested at once that 
there must be a communication between the two 
rooms. It could only be a small one, or it would 
have been remarked upon at the coroner 's inquiry. 
I deduced a ventilator." 

"But what harm can there be in that?" 

"Well, there is at least a curious coincidence of 
dates. A ventilator is made, a cord is hung, and 
a lady who sleeps in the bed dies. Does not that 
strike you?" 

"I cannot as yet see any connection." 



221 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



"Did you observe anything very peculiar about 
that bed?" 

"No." 

"It was clamped to the floor. Did you ever see 
a bed fastened like that before?" 

"I cannot say that I have." 

"The lady could not move her bed. It must al- 
ways be in the same relative position to the venti- 
lator and to the rope — or so we may call it, since it 
was clearly never meant for a bell-pull." 

"Holmes," I cried, "I seem to see dimly what 
you are hinting at. We are only just in time to pre- 
vent some subtle and horrible crime." 

"Subtle enough and horrible enough. When a 
doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. 
He has nerve and he has knowledge. Palmer and 
Pritchard were among the heads of their profes- 
sion. This man strikes even deeper, but I think, 
Watson, that we shall be able to strike deeper still. 
But we shall have horrors enough before the night 
is over; for goodness' sake let us have a quiet pipe 
and turn our minds for a few hours to something 
more cheerful." 

About nine o'clock the light among the trees 
was extinguished, and all was dark in the direc- 
tion of the Manor House. Two hours passed slowly 
away, and then, suddenly, just at the stroke of 
eleven, a single bright light shone out right in front 
of us. 

"That is our signal," said Holmes, springing to 
his feet; "it comes from the middle window." 

As we passed out he exchanged a few words 
with the landlord, explaining that we were going 
on a late visit to an acquaintance, and that it was 
possible that we might spend the night there. A 
moment later we were out on the dark road, a 
chill wind blowing in our faces, and one yellow 
light twinkling in front of us through the gloom to 
guide us on our sombre errand. 

There was little difficulty in entering the 
grounds, for unrepaired breaches gaped in the old 
park wall. Making our way among the trees, we 
reached the lawn, crossed it, and were about to 
enter through the window when out from a clump 
of laurel bushes there darted what seemed to be a 
hideous and distorted child, who threw itself upon 
the grass with writhing limbs and then ran swiftly 
across the lawn into the darkness. 

"My God!" I whispered; "did you see it?" 

Holmes was for the moment as startled as I. 
His hand closed like a vice upon my wrist in his 



agitation. Then he broke into a low laugh and put 
his lips to my ear. 

"It is a nice household," he murmured. "That 
is the baboon." 

I had forgotten the strange pets which the doc- 
tor affected. There was a cheetah, too; perhaps 
we might find it upon our shoulders at any mo- 
ment. I confess that I felt easier in my mind when, 
after following Holmes' example and slipping off 
my shoes, I found myself inside the bedroom. My 
companion noiselessly closed the shutters, moved 
the lamp onto the table, and cast his eyes round 
the room. All was as we had seen it in the daytime. 
Then creeping up to me and making a trumpet of 
his hand, he whispered into my ear again so gen- 
tly that it was all that I could do to distinguish the 
words: 

"The least sound would be fatal to our plans." 

I nodded to show that I had heard. 

"We must sit without light. He would see it 
through the ventilator." 

I nodded again. 

"Do not go asleep; your very life may depend 
upon it. Have your pistol ready in case we should 
need it. I will sit on the side of the bed, and you in 
that chair." 

I took out my revolver and laid it on the corner 
of the table. 

Holmes had brought up a long thin cane, and 
this he placed upon the bed beside him. By it he 
laid the box of matches and the stump of a candle. 
Then he turned down the lamp, and we were left 
in darkness. 

How shall I ever forget that dreadful vigil? I 
could not hear a sound, not even the drawing of 
a breath, and yet I knew that my companion sat 
open-eyed, within a few feet of me, in the same 
state of nervous tension in which I was myself. 
The shutters cut off the least ray of light, and we 
waited in absolute darkness. 

From outside came the occasional cry of a 
night-bird, and once at our very window a long 
drawn catlike whine, which told us that the chee- 
tah was indeed at liberty. Far away we could hear 
the deep tones of the parish clock, which boomed 
out every quarter of an hour. How long they 
seemed, those quarters! Twelve struck, and one 
and two and three, and still we sat waiting silently 
for whatever might befall. 

Suddenly there was the momentary gleam of a 
light up in the direction of the ventilator, which 
vanished immediately, but was succeeded by a 



222 



The Adventure of the Speckled Band 



strong smell of burning oil and heated metal. 
Someone in the next room had lit a dark-lantern. 
I heard a gentle sound of movement, and then 
all was silent once more, though the smell grew 
stronger. For half an hour I sat with straining ears. 
Then suddenly another sound became audible — a 
very gentle, soothing sound, like that of a small jet 
of steam escaping continually from a kettle. The 
instant that we heard it, Holmes sprang from the 
bed, struck a match, and lashed furiously with his 
cane at the bell-pull. 

"You see it, Watson?" he yelled. "You see it?" 

But I saw nothing. At the moment when 
Holmes struck the light I heard a low, clear whis- 
tle, but the sudden glare flashing into my weary 
eyes made it impossible for me to tell what it was 
at which my friend lashed so savagely. I could, 
however, see that his face was deadly pale and 
filled with horror and loathing. He had ceased to 
strike and was gazing up at the ventilator when 
suddenly there broke from the silence of the night 
the most horrible cry to which I have ever listened. 
It swelled up louder and louder, a hoarse yell of 
pain and fear and anger all mingled in the one 
dreadful shriek. They say that away down in the 
village, and even in the distant parsonage, that cry 
raised the sleepers from their beds. It struck cold 
to our hearts, and I stood gazing at Holmes, and 
he at me, until the last echoes of it had died away 
into the silence from which it rose. 

"What can it mean?" I gasped. 

"It means that it is all over," Holmes answered. 
"And perhaps, after all, it is for the best. Take your 
pistol, and we will enter Dr. Roylott's room." 

With a grave face he lit the lamp and led 
the way down the corridor. Twice he struck at 
the chamber door without any reply from within. 
Then he turned the handle and entered, I at his 
heels, with the cocked pistol in my hand. 

It was a singular sight which met our eyes. On 
the table stood a dark-lantern with the shutter half 
open, throwing a brilliant beam of light upon the 
iron safe, the door of which was ajar. Beside this 
table, on the wooden chair, sat Dr. Grimesby Roy- 
lott clad in a long grey dressing-gown, his bare 
ankles protruding beneath, and his feet thrust into 
red heelless Turkish slippers. Across his lap lay the 
short stock with the long lash which we had no- 
ticed during the day. His chin was cocked upward 
and his eyes were fixed in a dreadful, rigid stare at 
the corner of the ceiling. Round his brow he had 
a peculiar yellow band, with brownish speckles, 
which seemed to be bound tightly round his head. 
As we entered he made neither sound nor motion. 



"The band! the speckled band!" whispered 
Holmes. 

I took a step forward. In an instant his strange 
headgear began to move, and there reared itself 
from among his hair the squat diamond-shaped 
head and puffed neck of a loathsome serpent. 

"It is a swamp adder!" cried Holmes; "the 
deadliest snake in India. He has died within ten 
seconds of being bitten. Violence does, in truth, 
recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into 
the pit which he digs for another. Let us thrust 
this creature back into its den, and we can then re- 
move Miss Stoner to some place of shelter and let 
the county police know what has happened." 

As he spoke he drew the dog-whip swiftly 
from the dead man's lap, and throwing the noose 
round the reptile's neck he drew it from its horrid 
perch and, carrying it at arm's length, threw it into 
the iron safe, which he closed upon it. 

Such are the true facts of the death of Dr. 
Grimesby Roylott, of Stoke Moran. It is not nec- 
essary that I should prolong a narrative which has 
already run to too great a length by telling how 
we broke the sad news to the terrified girl, how 
we conveyed her by the morning train to the care 
of her good aunt at Harrow, of how the slow pro- 
cess of official inquiry came to the conclusion that 
the doctor met his fate while indiscreetly playing 
with a dangerous pet. The little which I had yet to 
learn of the case was told me by Sherlock Holmes 
as we travelled back next day. 

"I had," said he, "come to an entirely erroneous 
conclusion which shows, my dear Watson, how 
dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient 
data. The presence of the gipsies, and the use of 
the word 'band,' which was used by the poor girl, 
no doubt, to explain the appearance which she had 
caught a hurried glimpse of by the light of her 
match, were sufficient to put me upon an entirely 
wrong scent. I can only claim the merit that I in- 
stantly reconsidered my position when, however, 
it became clear to me that whatever danger threat- 
ened an occupant of the room could not come ei- 
ther from the window or the door. My attention 
was speedily drawn, as I have already remarked to 
you, to this ventilator, and to the bell-rope which 
hung down to the bed. The discovery that this was 
a dummy, and that the bed was clamped to the 
floor, instantly gave rise to the suspicion that the 
rope was there as a bridge for something passing 
through the hole and coming to the bed. The idea 
of a snake instantly occurred to me, and when I 
coupled it with my knowledge that the doctor was 
furnished with a supply of creatures from India, I 
felt that I was probably on the right track. The idea 



223 



of using a form of poison which could not possi- 
bly be discovered by any chemical test was just 
such a one as would occur to a clever and ruthless 
man who had had an Eastern training. The ra- 
pidity with which such a poison would take effect 
would also, from his point of view, be an advan- 
tage. It would be a sharp-eyed coroner, indeed, 
who could distinguish the two little dark punc- 
tures which would show where the poison fangs 
had done their work. Then I thought of the whis- 
tle. Of course he must recall the snake before the 
morning light revealed it to the victim. He had 
trained it, probably by the use of the milk which 
we saw, to return to him when summoned. He 
would put it through this ventilator at the hour 
that he thought best, with the certainty that it 
would crawl down the rope and land on the bed. It 
might or might not bite the occupant, perhaps she 
might escape every night for a week, but sooner or 
later she must fall a victim. 

"I had come to these conclusions before ever I 
had entered his room. An inspection of his chair 
showed me that he had been in the habit of stand- 



ing on it, which of course would be necessary in 
order that he should reach the ventilator. The 
sight of the safe, the saucer of milk, and the loop 
of whipcord were enough to finally dispel any 
doubts which may have remained. The metallic 
clang heard by Miss Stoner was obviously caused 
by her stepfather hastily closing the door of his 
safe upon its terrible occupant. Having once made 
up my mind, you know the steps which I took in 
order to put the matter to the proof. I heard the 
creature hiss as I have no doubt that you did also, 
and I instantly lit the light and attacked it." 

"With the result of driving it through the ven- 
tilator." 

"And also with the result of causing it to turn 
upon its master at the other side. Some of the 
blows of my cane came home and roused its snak- 
ish temper, so that it flew upon the first person it 
saw. In this way I am no doubt indirectly responsi- 
ble for Dr. Grimesby Roylott's death, and I cannot 
say that it is likely to weigh very heavily upon my 
conscience." 



The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 



The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 




f all the problems which have been 
submitted to my friend, Mr. Sherlock 
Holmes, for solution during the years of 
our intimacy, there were only two which 
I was the means of introducing to his notice — that 
of Mr. Hatherley's thumb, and that of Colonel War- 
burton's madness. Of these the latter may have 
afforded a finer field for an acute and original ob- 
server, but the other was so strange in its inception 
and so dramatic in its details that it may be the 
more worthy of being placed upon record, even if 
it gave my friend fewer openings for those deduc- 
tive methods of reasoning by which he achieved 
such remarkable results. The story has, I believe, 
been told more than once in the newspapers, but, 
like all such narratives, its effect is much less strik- 
ing when set forth en bloc in a single half-column 
of print than when the facts slowly evolve before 
your own eyes, and the mystery clears gradually 
away as each new discovery furnishes a step which 
leads on to the complete truth. At the time the cir- 
cumstances made a deep impression upon me, and 
the lapse of two years has hardly served to weaken 
the effect. 

It was in the summer of '89, not long after 
my marriage, that the events occurred which I 
am now about to summarise. I had returned to 
civil practice and had finally abandoned Holmes 
in his Baker Street rooms, although I continually 
visited him and occasionally even persuaded him 
to forgo his Bohemian habits so far as to come 
and visit us. My practice had steadily increased, 
and as I happened to live at no very great distance 
from Paddington Station, I got a few patients from 
among the officials. One of these, whom I had 
cured of a painful and lingering disease, was never 
weary of advertising my virtues and of endeavour- 
ing to send me on every sufferer over whom he 
might have any influence. 

One morning, at a little before seven o'clock, I 
was awakened by the maid tapping at the door to 
announce that two men had come from Padding- 
ton and were waiting in the consulting-room. I 
dressed hurriedly, for I knew by experience that 
railway cases were seldom trivial, and hastened 
downstairs. As I descended, my old ally, the 
guard, came out of the room and closed the door 
tightly behind him. 

"I've got him here," he whispered, jerking his 
thumb over his shoulder; "he's all right." 

"What is it, then?" I asked, for his manner sug- 
gested that it was some strange creature which he 
had caged up in my room. 



"It's a new patient," he whispered. "I thought 
I'd bring him round myself; then he couldn't slip 
away. There he is, all safe and sound. I must go 
now, Doctor; I have my dooties, just the same as 
you." And off he went, this trusty tout, without 
even giving me time to thank him. 

I entered my consulting-room and found a 
gentleman seated by the table. He was quietly 
dressed in a suit of heather tweed with a soft 
cloth cap which he had laid down upon my books. 
Round one of his hands he had a handkerchief 
wrapped, which was mottled all over with blood- 
stains. He was young, not more than five-and- 
twenty, I should say, with a strong, masculine face; 
but he was exceedingly pale and gave me the im- 
pression of a man who was suffering from some 
strong agitation, which it took all his strength of 
mind to control. 

"I am sorry to knock you up so early, Doctor," 
said he, "but I have had a very serious accident 
during the night. I came in by train this morn- 
ing, and on inquiring at Paddington as to where I 
might find a doctor, a worthy fellow very kindly 
escorted me here. I gave the maid a card, but I see 
that she has left it upon the side-table." 

I took it up and glanced at it. "Mr. Victor 
Hatherley, hydraulic engineer, 16A, Victoria Street 
(3rd floor)." That was the name, style, and abode 
of my morning visitor. "I regret that I have kept 
you waiting," said I, sitting down in my library- 
chair. "You are fresh from a night journey, I un- 
derstand, which is in itself a monotonous occupa- 
tion." 

"Oh, my night could not be called 
monotonous," said he, and laughed. He laughed 
very heartily, with a high, ringing note, leaning 
back in his chair and shaking his sides. All my 
medical instincts rose up against that laugh. 

"Stop it!" I cried; "pull yourself together!" and 
I poured out some water from a caraffe. 

It was useless, however. He was off in one 
of those hysterical outbursts which come upon a 
strong nature when some great crisis is over and 
gone. Presently he came to himself once more, 
very weary and pale-looking. 

"I have been making a fool of myself," he 
gasped. 

"Not at all. Drink this." I dashed some brandy 
into the water, and the colour began to come back 
to his bloodless cheeks. 

"That's better!" said he. "And now, Doctor, 
perhaps you would kindly attend to my thumb, or 
rather to the place where my thumb used to be." 



227 



The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 



He unwound the handkerchief and held out his 
hand. It gave even my hardened nerves a shudder 
to look at it. There were four protruding fingers 
and a horrid red, spongy surface where the thumb 
should have been. It had been hacked or torn right 
out from the roots. 

"Good heavens!" I cried, "this is a terrible in- 
jury. It must have bled considerably." 

"Yes, it did. I fainted when it was done, and 
I think that I must have been senseless for a long 
time. When I came to I found that it was still bleed- 
ing, so I tied one end of my handkerchief very 
tightly round the wrist and braced it up with a 
twig." 

"Excellent! You should have been a surgeon." 

"It is a question of hydraulics, you see, and 
came within my own province." 

"This has been done," said I, examining the 
wound, "by a very heavy and sharp instrument." 

"A thing like a cleaver," said he. 

"An accident, I presume?" 

"By no means." 

"What! a murderous attack?" 

"Very murderous indeed." 

"You horrify me." 

I sponged the wound, cleaned it, dressed it, 
and finally covered it over with cotton wadding 
and carbolised bandages. He lay back without 
wincing, though he bit his lip from time to time. 

"How is that?" I asked when I had finished. 

"Capital! Between your brandy and your ban- 
dage, I feel a new man. I was very weak, but I have 
had a good deal to go through." 

"Perhaps you had better not speak of the mat- 
ter. It is evidently trying to your nerves." 

"Oh, no, not now. I shall have to tell my tale to 
the police; but, between ourselves, if it were not for 
the convincing evidence of this wound of mine, I 
should be surprised if they believed my statement, 
for it is a very extraordinary one, and I have not 
much in the way of proof with which to back it 
up; and, even if they believe me, the clues which 
I can give them are so vague that it is a question 
whether justice will be done." 

"Ha!" cried I, "if it is anything in the nature of 
a problem which you desire to see solved, I should 
strongly recommend you to come to my friend, 
Mr. Sherlock Holmes, before you go to the official 
police." 

"Oh, I have heard of that fellow," answered my 
visitor, "and I should be very glad if he would take 



the matter up, though of course I must use the of- 
ficial police as well. Would you give me an intro- 
duction to him?" 

"I'll do better. I'll take you round to him my- 
self." 

"I should be immensely obliged to you." 

"We'll call a cab and go together. We shall just 
be in time to have a little breakfast with him. Do 
you feel equal to it?" 

"Yes; I shall not feel easy until I have told my 
story." 

"Then my servant will call a cab, and I shall 
be with you in an instant." I rushed upstairs, ex- 
plained the matter shortly to my wife, and in five 
minutes was inside a hansom, driving with my 
new acquaintance to Baker Street. 

Sherlock Holmes was, as I expected, lounging 
about his sitting-room in his dressing-gown, read- 
ing the agony column of The Times and smoking 
his before-breakfast pipe, which was composed of 
all the plugs and dottles left from his smokes of the 
day before, all carefully dried and collected on the 
corner of the mantelpiece. He received us in his 
quietly genial fashion, ordered fresh rashers and 
eggs, and joined us in a hearty meal. When it was 
concluded he settled our new acquaintance upon 
the sofa, placed a pillow beneath his head, and laid 
a glass of brandy and water within his reach. 

"It is easy to see that your experience has been 
no common one, Mr. Hatherley," said he. "Pray, lie 
down there and make yourself absolutely at home. 
Tell us what you can, but stop when you are tired 
and keep up your strength with a little stimulant." 

"Thank you," said my patient, "but I have felt 
another man since the doctor bandaged me, and I 
think that your breakfast has completed the cure. 
I shall take up as little of your valuable time as 
possible, so I shall start at once upon my peculiar 
experiences." 

Holmes sat in his big armchair with the weary, 
heavy-lidded expression which veiled his keen 
and eager nature, while I sat opposite to him, and 
we listened in silence to the strange story which 
our visitor detailed to us. 

"You must know," said he, "that I am an or- 
phan and a bachelor, residing alone in lodgings 
in London. By profession I am a hydraulic engi- 
neer, and I have had considerable experience of 
my work during the seven years that I was ap- 
prenticed to Venner & Matheson, the well-known 
firm, of Greenwich. Two years ago, having served 
my time, and having also come into a fair sum 



228 



The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 



of money through my poor father's death, I de- 
termined to start in business for myself and took 
professional chambers in Victoria Street. 

"I suppose that everyone finds his first inde- 
pendent start in business a dreary experience. To 
me it has been exceptionally so. During two years 
I have had three consultations and one small job, 
and that is absolutely all that my profession has 
brought me. My gross takings amount to £27 10s. 
Every day, from nine in the morning until four in 
the afternoon, I waited in my little den, until at last 
my heart began to sink, and I came to believe that 
I should never have any practice at all. 

"Yesterday, however, just as I was thinking of 
leaving the office, my clerk entered to say there 
was a gentleman waiting who wished to see me 
upon business. He brought up a card, too, with the 
name of 'Colonel Lysander Stark' engraved upon 
it. Close at his heels came the colonel himself, a 
man rather over the middle size, but of an exceed- 
ing thinness. I do not think that I have ever seen 
so thin a man. His whole face sharpened away 
into nose and chin, and the skin of his cheeks was 
drawn quite tense over his outstanding bones. Yet 
this emaciation seemed to be his natural habit, and 
due to no disease, for his eye was bright, his step 
brisk, and his bearing assured. He was plainly but 
neatly dressed, and his age, I should judge, would 
be nearer forty than thirty. 

" 'Mr. Hatherley?' said he, with something of a 
German accent. 'You have been recommended to 
me, Mr. Hatherley, as being a man who is not only 
proficient in his profession but is also discreet and 
capable of preserving a secret.' 

"I bowed, feeling as flattered as any young man 
would at such an address. 'May I ask who it was 
who gave me so good a character?' 

" 'Well, perhaps it is better that I should not tell 
you that just at this moment. I have it from the 
same source that you are both an orphan and a 
bachelor and are residing alone in London.' 

" 'That is quite correct,' I answered; 'but you 
will excuse me if I say that I cannot see how all 
this bears upon my professional qualifications. I 
understand that it was on a professional matter 
that you wished to speak to me?' 

" 'Undoubtedly so. But you will find that all 
I say is really to the point. I have a professional 
commission for you, but absolute secrecy is quite 
essential — absolute secrecy, you understand, and 
of course we may expect that more from a man 
who is alone than from one who lives in the bo- 
som of his family' 



" 'If I promise to keep a secret,' said I, 'you may 
absolutely depend upon my doing so.' 

"He looked very hard at me as I spoke, and it 
seemed to me that I had never seen so suspicious 
and questioning an eye. 

" 'Do you promise, then?' said he at last. 

" 'Yes, I promise.' 

" 'Absolute and complete silence before, dur- 
ing, and after? No reference to the matter at all, 
either in word or writing?' 

" T have already given you my word.' 

" 'Very good.' He suddenly sprang up, and 
darting like lightning across the room he flung 
open the door. The passage outside was empty. 

" 'That's all right,' said he, coming back. 1 
know that clerks are sometimes curious as to their 
master's affairs. Now we can talk in safety' He 
drew up his chair very close to mine and began to 
stare at me again with the same questioning and 
thoughtful look. 

"A feeling of repulsion, and of something akin 
to fear had begun to rise within me at the strange 
antics of this fleshless man. Even my dread of los- 
ing a client could not restrain me from showing 
my impatience. 

" 1 beg that you will state your business, sir,' 
said I; 'my time is of value.' Heaven forgive me for 
that last sentence, but the words came to my lips. 

" 'How would fifty guineas for a night's work 
suit you?' he asked. 

" 'Most admirably' 

" 1 say a night's work, but an hour's would be 
nearer the mark. I simply want your opinion about 
a hydraulic stamping machine which has got out 
of gear. If you show us what is wrong we shall 
soon set it right ourselves. What do you think of 
such a commission as that?' 

" 'The work appears to be light and the pay mu- 
nificent.' 

" 'Precisely so. We shall want you to come to- 
night by the last train.' 

" 'Where to?' 

" 'To Eyford, in Berkshire. It is a little place 
near the borders of Oxfordshire, and within seven 
miles of Reading. There is a train from Paddington 
which would bring you there at about 11.15.' 

" 'Very good.' 

" 1 shall come down in a carriage to meet you.' 

" 'There is a drive, then?' 

" 'Yes, our little place is quite out in the country. 
It is a good seven miles from Eyford Station.' 

" 'Then we can hardly get there before mid- 
night. I suppose there would be no chance of 



229 



The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 



a train back. I should be compelled to stop the 
night.' 

" 'Yes, we could easily give you a shake-down.' 

" 'That is very awkward. Could I not come at 
some more convenient hour?' 

" 'We have judged it best that you should come 
late. It is to recompense you for any inconvenience 
that we are paying to you, a young and unknown 
man, a fee which would buy an opinion from the 
very heads of your profession. Still, of course, if 
you would like to draw out of the business, there 
is plenty of time to do so.' 

"I thought of the fifty guineas, and of how very 
useful they would be to me. 'Not at all,' said I, 
T shall be very happy to accommodate myself to 
your wishes. I should like, however, to understand 
a little more clearly what it is that you wish me to 
do.' 

" 'Quite so. It is very natural that the pledge of 
secrecy which we have exacted from you should 
have aroused your curiosity. I have no wish to 
commit you to anything without your having it all 
laid before you. I suppose that we are absolutely 
safe from eavesdroppers?' 

" 'Entirely' 

" 'Then the matter stands thus. You are proba- 
bly aware that fuller 's-earth is a valuable product, 
and that it is only found in one or two places in 
England?' 

" T have heard so.' 

" 'Some little time ago I bought a small 
place — a very small place — within ten miles of 
Reading. I was fortunate enough to discover that 
there was a deposit of fuller 's-earth in one of my 
fields. On examining it, however, I found that this 
deposit was a comparatively small one, and that it 
formed a link between two very much larger ones 
upon the right and left — both of them, however, in 
the grounds of my neighbours. These good peo- 
ple were absolutely ignorant that their land con- 
tained that which was quite as valuable as a gold- 
mine. Naturally, it was to my interest to buy their 
land before they discovered its true value, but un- 
fortunately I had no capital by which I could do 
this. I took a few of my friends into the secret, 
however, and they suggested that we should qui- 
etly and secretly work our own little deposit and 
that in this way we should earn the money which 
would enable us to buy the neighbouring fields. 
This we have now been doing for some time, and 
in order to help us in our operations we erected a 
hydraulic press. This press, as I have already ex- 
plained, has got out of order, and we wish your 



advice upon the subject. We guard our secret very 
jealously, however, and if it once became known 
that we had hydraulic engineers coming to our lit- 
tle house, it would soon rouse inquiry, and then, 
if the facts came out, it would be good-bye to any 
chance of getting these fields and carrying out our 
plans. That is why I have made you promise me 
that you will not tell a human being that you are 
going to Eyford to-night. I hope that I make it all 
plain?' 

" 1 quite follow you,' said I. 'The only point 
which I could not quite understand was what use 
you could make of a hydraulic press in excavating 
fuller 's-earth, which, as I understand, is dug out 
like gravel from a pit.' 

" 'Ah!' said he carelessly, 'we have our own 
process. We compress the earth into bricks, so as 
to remove them without revealing what they are. 
But that is a mere detail. I have taken you fully 
into my confidence now, Mr. Hatherley, and I have 
shown you how I trust you.' He rose as he spoke. 
1 shall expect you, then, at Eyford at 11.15.' 

" 1 shall certainly be there.' 

" 'And not a word to a soul.' He looked at 
me with a last long, questioning gaze, and then, 
pressing my hand in a cold, dank grasp, he hur- 
ried from the room. 

"Well, when I came to think it all over in cool 
blood I was very much astonished, as you may 
both think, at this sudden commission which had 
been intrusted to me. On the one hand, of course, 
I was glad, for the fee was at least tenfold what I 
should have asked had I set a price upon my own 
services, and it was possible that this order might 
lead to other ones. On the other hand, the face and 
manner of my patron had made an unpleasant im- 
pression upon me, and I could not think that his 
explanation of the fuller 's-earth was sufficient to 
explain the necessity for my coming at midnight, 
and his extreme anxiety lest I should tell anyone 
of my errand. However, I threw all fears to the 
winds, ate a hearty supper, drove to Paddington, 
and started off, having obeyed to the letter the in- 
junction as to holding my tongue. 

"At Reading I had to change not only my car- 
riage but my station. However, I was in time for 
the last train to Eyford, and I reached the little 
dim-lit station after eleven o'clock. I was the only 
passenger who got out there, and there was no one 
upon the platform save a single sleepy porter with 
a lantern. As I passed out through the wicket gate, 
however, I found my acquaintance of the morning 
waiting in the shadow upon the other side. With- 
out a word he grasped my arm and hurried me 



230 



The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 



into a carriage, the door of which was standing 
open. He drew up the windows on either side, 
tapped on the wood-work, and away we went as 
fast as the horse could go." 

"One horse?" interjected Holmes. 

"Yes, only one." 

"Did you observe the colour?" 

"Yes, I saw it by the side-lights when I was step- 
ping into the carriage. It was a chestnut." 

"Tired-looking or fresh?" 

"Oh, fresh and glossy." 

"Thank you. I am sorry to have interrupted 
you. Pray continue your most interesting state- 
ment." 

"Away we went then, and we drove for at least 
an hour. Colonel Lysander Stark had said that it 
was only seven miles, but I should think, from the 
rate that we seemed to go, and from the time that 
we took, that it must have been nearer twelve. He 
sat at my side in silence all the time, and I was 
aware, more than once when I glanced in his di- 
rection, that he was looking at me with great in- 
tensity. The country roads seem to be not very 
good in that part of the world, for we lurched and 
jolted terribly. I tried to look out of the windows 
to see something of where we were, but they were 
made of frosted glass, and I could make out noth- 
ing save the occasional bright blur of a passing 
light. Now and then I hazarded some remark to 
break the monotony of the journey, but the colonel 
answered only in monosyllables, and the conversa- 
tion soon flagged. At last, however, the bumping 
of the road was exchanged for the crisp smooth- 
ness of a gravel-drive, and the carriage came to a 
stand. Colonel Lysander Stark sprang out, and, 
as I followed after him, pulled me swiftly into a 
porch which gaped in front of us. We stepped, as it 
were, right out of the carriage and into the hall, so 
that I failed to catch the most fleeting glance of the 
front of the house. The instant that I had crossed 
the threshold the door slammed heavily behind us, 
and I heard faintly the rattle of the wheels as the 
carriage drove away. 

"It was pitch dark inside the house, and the 
colonel fumbled about looking for matches and 
muttering under his breath. Suddenly a door 
opened at the other end of the passage, and a long, 
golden bar of light shot out in our direction. It 
grew broader, and a woman appeared with a lamp 
in her hand, which she held above her head, push- 
ing her face forward and peering at us. I could see 
that she was pretty, and from the gloss with which 
the light shone upon her dark dress I knew that it 



was a rich material. She spoke a few words in a 
foreign tongue in a tone as though asking a ques- 
tion, and when my companion answered in a gruff 
monosyllable she gave such a start that the lamp 
nearly fell from her hand. Colonel Stark went up 
to her, whispered something in her ear, and then, 
pushing her back into the room from whence she 
had come, he walked towards me again with the 
lamp in his hand. 

" 'Perhaps you will have the kindness to wait 
in this room for a few minutes,' said he, throwing 
open another door. It was a quiet, little, plainly 
furnished room, with a round table in the centre, 
on which several German books were scattered. 
Colonel Stark laid down the lamp on the top of 
a harmonium beside the door. T shall not keep 
you waiting an instant,' said he, and vanished into 
the darkness. 

"I glanced at the books upon the table, and in 
spite of my ignorance of German I could see that 
two of them were treatises on science, the others 
being volumes of poetry. Then I walked across 
to the window, hoping that I might catch some 
glimpse of the country-side, but an oak shutter, 
heavily barred, was folded across it. It was a won- 
derfully silent house. There was an old clock tick- 
ing loudly somewhere in the passage, but other- 
wise everything was deadly still. A vague feeling 
of uneasiness began to steal over me. Who were 
these German people, and what were they doing 
living in this strange, out-of-the-way place? And 
where was the place? I was ten miles or so from 
Eyford, that was all I knew, but whether north, 
south, east, or west I had no idea. For that mat- 
ter, Reading, and possibly other large towns, were 
within that radius, so the place might not be so 
secluded, after all. Yet it was quite certain, from 
the absolute stillness, that we were in the country. 
I paced up and down the room, humming a tune 
under my breath to keep up my spirits and feeling 
that I was thoroughly earning my fifty-guinea fee. 

"Suddenly, without any preliminary sound in 
the midst of the utter stillness, the door of my 
room swung slowly open. The woman was stand- 
ing in the aperture, the darkness of the hall behind 
her, the yellow light from my lamp beating upon 
her eager and beautiful face. I could see at a glance 
that she was sick with fear, and the sight sent a 
chill to my own heart. She held up one shaking 
finger to warn me to be silent, and she shot a few 
whispered words of broken English at me, her eyes 
glancing back, like those of a frightened horse, into 
the gloom behind her. 

" 1 would go,' said she, trying hard, as it 
seemed to me, to speak calmly; T would go. I 



231 



The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 



should not stay here. There is no good for you 
to do.' 

" 'But, madam/ said I, T have not yet done 
what I came for. I cannot possibly leave until I 
have seen the machine.' 

" 'It is not worth your while to wait/ she went 
on. 'You can pass through the door; no one hin- 
ders.' And then, seeing that I smiled and shook 
my head, she suddenly threw aside her constraint 
and made a step forward, with her hands wrung 
together. 'For the love of Heaven!' she whispered, 
'get away from here before it is too late!' 

"But I am somewhat headstrong by nature, and 
the more ready to engage in an affair when there 
is some obstacle in the way. I thought of my fifty- 
guinea fee, of my wearisome journey, and of the 
unpleasant night which seemed to be before me. 
Was it all to go for nothing? Why should I slink 
away without having carried out my commission, 
and without the payment which was my due? This 
woman might, for all I knew, be a monomaniac. 
With a stout bearing, therefore, though her man- 
ner had shaken me more than I cared to confess, 
I still shook my head and declared my intention 
of remaining where I was. She was about to re- 
new her entreaties when a door slammed over- 
head, and the sound of several footsteps was heard 
upon the stairs. She listened for an instant, threw 
up her hands with a despairing gesture, and van- 
ished as suddenly and as noiselessly as she had 
come. 

"The newcomers were Colonel Lysander Stark 
and a short thick man with a chinchilla beard 
growing out of the creases of his double chin, who 
was introduced to me as Mr. Ferguson. 

" 'This is my secretary and manager,' said the 
colonel. 'By the way, I was under the impression 
that I left this door shut just now. I fear that you 
have felt the draught.' 

" 'On the contrary/ said I, 1 opened the door 
myself because I felt the room to be a little close.' 

"He shot one of his suspicious looks at me. 
'Perhaps we had better proceed to business, then,' 
said he. 'Mr. Ferguson and I will take you up to 
see the machine.' 

" T had better put my hat on, I suppose.' 

" 'Oh, no, it is in the house.' 

" 'What, you dig fuller 's-earth in the house?' 

" 'No, no. This is only where we compress it. 
But never mind that. All we wish you to do is to 
examine the machine and to let us know what is 
wrong with it.' 



"We went upstairs together, the colonel first 
with the lamp, the fat manager and I behind him. 
It was a labyrinth of an old house, with corri- 
dors, passages, narrow winding staircases, and lit- 
tle low doors, the thresholds of which were hol- 
lowed out by the generations who had crossed 
them. There were no carpets and no signs of any 
furniture above the ground floor, while the plas- 
ter was peeling off the walls, and the damp was 
breaking through in green, unhealthy blotches. I 
tried to put on as unconcerned an air as possible, 
but I had not forgotten the warnings of the lady, 
even though I disregarded them, and I kept a keen 
eye upon my two companions. Ferguson appeared 
to be a morose and silent man, but I could see from 
the little that he said that he was at least a fellow- 
countryman. 

"Colonel Lysander Stark stopped at last before 
a low door, which he unlocked. Within was a 
small, square room, in which the three of us could 
hardly get at one time. Ferguson remained out- 
side, and the colonel ushered me in. 

" 'We are now/ said he, 'actually within the hy- 
draulic press, and it would be a particularly un- 
pleasant thing for us if anyone were to turn it on. 
The ceiling of this small chamber is really the end 
of the descending piston, and it comes down with 
the force of many tons upon this metal floor. There 
are small lateral columns of water outside which 
receive the force, and which transmit and multi- 
ply it in the manner which is familiar to you. The 
machine goes readily enough, but there is some 
stiffness in the working of it, and it has lost a little 
of its force. Perhaps you will have the goodness 
to look it over and to show us how we can set it 
right.' 

"I took the lamp from him, and I examined 
the machine very thoroughly. It was indeed a gi- 
gantic one, and capable of exercising enormous 
pressure. When I passed outside, however, and 
pressed down the levers which controlled it, I 
knew at once by the whishing sound that there 
was a slight leakage, which allowed a regurgita- 
tion of water through one of the side cylinders. An 
examination showed that one of the india-rubber 
bands which was round the head of a driving-rod 
had shrunk so as not quite to fill the socket along 
which it worked. This was clearly the cause of the 
loss of power, and I pointed it out to my compan- 
ions, who followed my remarks very carefully and 
asked several practical questions as to how they 
should proceed to set it right. When I had made 
it clear to them, I returned to the main chamber of 
the machine and took a good look at it to satisfy 



232 



The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 



my own curiosity. It was obvious at a glance that 
the story of the fuller 's-earth was the merest fab- 
rication, for it would be absurd to suppose that so 
powerful an engine could be designed for so inad- 
equate a purpose. The walls were of wood, but the 
floor consisted of a large iron trough, and when I 
came to examine it I could see a crust of metallic 
deposit all over it. I had stooped and was scraping 
at this to see exactly what it was when I heard a 
muttered exclamation in German and saw the ca- 
daverous face of the colonel looking down at me. 

" 'What are you doing there?' he asked. 

"I felt angry at having been tricked by so elab- 
orate a story as that which he had told me. T was 
admiring your fuller 's-earth,' said I; T think that 
I should be better able to advise you as to your 
machine if I knew what the exact purpose was for 
which it was used.' 

"The instant that I uttered the words I regretted 
the rashness of my speech. His face set hard, and 
a baleful light sprang up in his grey eyes. 

" 'Very well,' said he, 'you shall know all about 
the machine.' He took a step backward, slammed 
the little door, and turned the key in the lock. I 
rushed towards it and pulled at the handle, but it 
was quite secure, and did not give in the least to 
my kicks and shoves. 'Hullo!' I yelled. 'Hullo! 
Colonel! Let me out!' 

"And then suddenly in the silence I heard a 
sound which sent my heart into my mouth. It 
was the clank of the levers and the swish of the 
leaking cylinder. He had set the engine at work. 
The lamp still stood upon the floor where I had 
placed it when examining the trough. By its light 
I saw that the black ceiling was coming down 
upon me, slowly, jerkily, but, as none knew bet- 
ter than myself, with a force which must within 
a minute grind me to a shapeless pulp. I threw 
myself, screaming, against the door, and dragged 
with my nails at the lock. I implored the colonel 
to let me out, but the remorseless clanking of the 
levers drowned my cries. The ceiling was only a 
foot or two above my head, and with my hand up- 
raised I could feel its hard, rough surface. Then 
it flashed through my mind that the pain of my 
death would depend very much upon the position 
in which I met it. If I lay on my face the weight 
would come upon my spine, and I shuddered to 
think of that dreadful snap. Easier the other way, 
perhaps; and yet, had I the nerve to lie and look up 
at that deadly black shadow wavering down upon 
me? Already I was unable to stand erect, when 
my eye caught something which brought a gush 
of hope back to my heart. 



"I have said that though the floor and ceiling 
were of iron, the walls were of wood. As I gave a 
last hurried glance around, I saw a thin line of yel- 
low light between two of the boards, which broad- 
ened and broadened as a small panel was pushed 
backward. For an instant I could hardly believe 
that here was indeed a door which led away from 
death. The next instant I threw myself through, 
and lay half -fain ting upon the other side. The 
panel had closed again behind me, but the crash of 
the lamp, and a few moments afterwards the clang 
of the two slabs of metal, told me how narrow had 
been my escape. 

"I was recalled to myself by a frantic plucking 
at my wrist, and I found myself lying upon the 
stone floor of a narrow corridor, while a woman 
bent over me and tugged at me with her left hand, 
while she held a candle in her right. It was the 
same good friend whose warning I had so fool- 
ishly rejected. 

" 'Come! come!' she cried breathlessly. 'They 
will be here in a moment. They will see that you 
are not there. Oh, do not waste the so-precious 
time, but come!' 

"This time, at least, I did not scorn her advice. 
I staggered to my feet and ran with her along the 
corridor and down a winding stair. The latter led 
to another broad passage, and just as we reached it 
we heard the sound of running feet and the shout- 
ing of two voices, one answering the other from 
the floor on which we were and from the one be- 
neath. My guide stopped and looked about her 
like one who is at her wit's end. Then she threw 
open a door which led into a bedroom, through the 
window of which the moon was shining brightly. 

" 'It is your only chance,' said she. 'It is high, 
but it may be that you can jump it.' 

"As she spoke a light sprang into view at the 
further end of the passage, and I saw the lean 
figure of Colonel Lysander Stark rushing forward 
with a lantern in one hand and a weapon like a 
butcher's cleaver in the other. I rushed across the 
bedroom, flung open the window, and looked out. 
How quiet and sweet and wholesome the garden 
looked in the moonlight, and it could not be more 
than thirty feet down. I clambered out upon the 
sill, but I hesitated to jump until I should have 
heard what passed between my saviour and the 
ruffian who pursued me. If she were ill-used, then 
at any risks I was determined to go back to her as- 
sistance. The thought had hardly flashed through 
my mind before he was at the door, pushing his 
way past her; but she threw her arms round him 
and tried to hold him back. 



233 



The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 



" 'Fritz! Fritz!' she cried in English, 'remem- 
ber your promise after the last time. You said it 
should not be again. He will be silent! Oh, he will 
be silent!' 

" 'You are mad, Elise!' he shouted, struggling 
to break away from her. 'You will be the ruin of 
us. He has seen too much. Let me pass, I say!' He 
dashed her to one side, and, rushing to the win- 
dow, cut at me with his heavy weapon. I had let 
myself go, and was hanging by the hands to the 
sill, when his blow fell. I was conscious of a dull 
pain, my grip loosened, and I fell into the garden 
below. 

"I was shaken but not hurt by the fall; so 
I picked myself up and rushed off among the 
bushes as hard as I could run, for I understood 
that I was far from being out of danger yet. Sud- 
denly, however, as I ran, a deadly dizziness and 
sickness came over me. I glanced down at my 
hand, which was throbbing painfully, and then, for 
the first time, saw that my thumb had been cut off 
and that the blood was pouring from my wound. 
I endeavoured to tie my handkerchief round it, 
but there came a sudden buzzing in my ears, and 
next moment I fell in a dead faint among the rose- 
bushes. 

"How long I remained unconscious I cannot 
tell. It must have been a very long time, for 
the moon had sunk, and a bright morning was 
breaking when I came to myself. My clothes 
were all sodden with dew, and my coat-sleeve was 
drenched with blood from my wounded thumb. 
The smarting of it recalled in an instant all the par- 
ticulars of my night's adventure, and I sprang to 
my feet with the feeling that I might hardly yet be 
safe from my pursuers. But to my astonishment, 
when I came to look round me, neither house nor 
garden were to be seen. I had been lying in an an- 
gle of the hedge close by the highroad, and just 
a little lower down was a long building, which 
proved, upon my approaching it, to be the very 
station at which I had arrived upon the previous 
night. Were it not for the ugly wound upon my 
hand, all that had passed during those dreadful 
hours might have been an evil dream. 

"Half dazed, I went into the station and asked 
about the morning train. There would be one to 
Reading in less than an hour. The same porter 
was on duty, I found, as had been there when I 
arrived. I inquired of him whether he had ever 
heard of Colonel Lysander Stark. The name was 
strange to him. Had he observed a carriage the 
night before waiting for me? No, he had not. Was 



there a police-station anywhere near? There was 
one about three miles off. 

"It was too far for me to go, weak and ill as I 
was. I determined to wait until I got back to town 
before telling my story to the police. It was a lit- 
tle past six when I arrived, so I went first to have 
my wound dressed, and then the doctor was kind 
enough to bring me along here. I put the case into 
your hands and shall do exactly what you advise." 

We both sat in silence for some little time af- 
ter listening to this extraordinary narrative. Then 
Sherlock Holmes pulled down from the shelf one 
of the ponderous commonplace books in which he 
placed his cuttings. 

"Here is an advertisement which will interest 
you," said he. "It appeared in all the papers about 
a year ago. Listen to this: 

"'Lost, on the gth inst., Mr. Jeremiah 
Hayling, aged twenty-six, a hydraulic en- 
gineer. Left his lodgings at ten o'clock at 
night, and has not been heard of since. Was 
dressed in — ' 

etc., etc. Ha! That represents the last time that the 
colonel needed to have his machine overhauled, I 
fancy." 

"Good heavens!" cried my patient. "Then that 
explains what the girl said." 

"Undoubtedly. It is quite clear that the colonel 
was a cool and desperate man, who was absolutely 
determined that nothing should stand in the way 
of his little game, like those out-and-out pirates 
who will leave no survivor from a captured ship. 
Well, every moment now is precious, so if you feel 
equal to it we shall go down to Scotland Yard at 
once as a preliminary to starting for Eyford." 

Some three hours or so afterwards we were 
all in the train together, bound from Reading to 
the little Berkshire village. There were Sherlock 
Holmes, the hydraulic engineer, Inspector Brad- 
street, of Scotland Yard, a plain-clothes man, and 
myself. Bradstreet had spread an ordnance map 
of the county out upon the seat and was busy with 
his compasses drawing a circle with Eyford for its 
centre. 

"There you are," said he. "That circle is drawn 
at a radius of ten miles from the village. The place 
we want must be somewhere near that line. You 
said ten miles, I think, sir." 

"It was an hour's good drive." 

"And you think that they brought you back all 
that way when you were unconscious?" 



234 



The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 



"They must have done so. I have a confused 
memory, too, of having been lifted and conveyed 
somewhere." 

"What I cannot understand," said I, "is why 
they should have spared you when they found you 
lying fainting in the garden. Perhaps the villain 
was softened by the woman's entreaties." 

"I hardly think that likely. I never saw a more 
inexorable face in my life." 

"Oh, we shall soon clear up all that," said Brad- 
street. "Well, I have drawn my circle, and I only 
wish I knew at what point upon it the folk that we 
are in search of are to be found." 

"I think I could lay my finger on it," said 
Holmes quietly. 

"Really, now!" cried the inspector, "you have 
formed your opinion! Come, now, we shall see 
who agrees with you. I say it is south, for the 
country is more deserted there." 

"And I say east," said my patient. 

"I am for west," remarked the plain-clothes 
man. "There are several quiet little villages up 
there." 

"And I am for north," said I, "because there are 
no hills there, and our friend says that he did not 
notice the carriage go up any." 

"Come," cried the inspector, laughing; "it's a 
very pretty diversity of opinion. We have boxed 
the compass among us. Who do you give your 
casting vote to?" 

"You are all wrong." 

"But we can't all be." 

"Oh, yes, you can. This is my point." He placed 
his finger in the centre of the circle. "This is where 
we shall find them." 

"But the twelve-mile drive?" gasped Hatherley 

"Six out and six back. Nothing simpler. You 
say yourself that the horse was fresh and glossy 
when you got in. How could it be that if it had 
gone twelve miles over heavy roads?" 

"Indeed, it is a likely ruse enough," observed 
Bradstreet thoughtfully. "Of course there can be 
no doubt as to the nature of this gang." 

"None at all," said Holmes. "They are coin- 
ers on a large scale, and have used the machine 
to form the amalgam which has taken the place of 
silver." 

"We have known for some time that a clever 
gang was at work," said the inspector. "They have 
been turning out half-crowns by the thousand. We 
even traced them as far as Reading, but could get 



no farther, for they had covered their traces in a 
way that showed that they were very old hands. 
But now, thanks to this lucky chance, I think that 
we have got them right enough." 

But the inspector was mistaken, for those crim- 
inals were not destined to fall into the hands of 
justice. As we rolled into Eyford Station we saw a 
gigantic column of smoke which streamed up from 
behind a small clump of trees in the neighbour- 
hood and hung like an immense ostrich feather 
over the landscape. 

"A house on fire?" asked Bradstreet as the train 
steamed off again on its way. 

"Yes, sir!" said the station-master. 

"When did it break out?" 

"I hear that it was during the night, sir, but it 
has got worse, and the whole place is in a blaze." 

"Whose house is it?" 

"Dr. Becher's." 

"Tell me," broke in the engineer, "is Dr. Becher 
a German, very thin, with a long, sharp nose?" 

The station-master laughed heartily. "No, sir, 
Dr. Becher is an Englishman, and there isn't a man 
in the parish who has a better-lined waistcoat. But 
he has a gentleman staying with him, a patient, 
as I understand, who is a foreigner, and he looks 
as if a little good Berkshire beef would do him no 
harm." 

The station-master had not finished his speech 
before we were all hastening in the direction of the 
fire. The road topped a low hill, and there was 
a great widespread whitewashed building in front 
of us, spouting fire at every chink and window, 
while in the garden in front three fire-engines were 
vainly striving to keep the flames under. 

"That's it!" cried Hatherley, in intense excite- 
ment. "There is the gravel-drive, and there are the 
rose-bushes where I lay. That second window is 
the one that I jumped from. " 

"Well, at least," said Holmes, "you have had 
your revenge upon them. There can be no ques- 
tion that it was your oil-lamp which, when it was 
crushed in the press, set fire to the wooden walls, 
though no doubt they were too excited in the chase 
after you to observe it at the time. Now keep your 
eyes open in this crowd for your friends of last 
night, though I very much fear that they are a good 
hundred miles off by now." 

And Holmes' fears came to be realised, for 
from that day to this no word has ever been heard 
either of the beautiful woman, the sinister German, 
or the morose Englishman. Early that morning 
a peasant had met a cart containing several peo- 
ple and some very bulky boxes driving rapidly in 



235 



the direction of Reading, but there all traces of the 
fugitives disappeared, and even Holmes' ingenu- 
ity failed ever to discover the least clue as to their 
whereabouts. 

The firemen had been much perturbed at 
the strange arrangements which they had found 
within, and still more so by discovering a newly 
severed human thumb upon a window-sill of the 
second floor. About sunset, however, their ef- 
forts were at last successful, and they subdued 
the flames, but not before the roof had fallen in, 
and the whole place been reduced to such abso- 
lute ruin that, save some twisted cylinders and 
iron piping, not a trace remained of the machinery 
which had cost our unfortunate acquaintance so 
dearly. Large masses of nickel and of tin were dis- 
covered stored in an out-house, but no coins were 
to be found, which may have explained the pres- 
ence of those bulky boxes which have been already 
referred to. 

How our hydraulic engineer had been con- 



veyed from the garden to the spot where he re- 
covered his senses might have remained forever a 
mystery were it not for the soft mould, which told 
us a very plain tale. He had evidently been car- 
ried down by two persons, one of whom had re- 
markably small feet and the other unusually large 
ones. On the whole, it was most probable that the 
silent Englishman, being less bold or less murder- 
ous than his companion, had assisted the woman 
to bear the unconscious man out of the way of dan- 
ger. 

"Well," said our engineer ruefully as we took 
our seats to return once more to London, "it has 
been a pretty business for me! I have lost my 
thumb and I have lost a fifty-guinea fee, and what 
have I gained?" 

"Experience," said Holmes, laughing. "Indi- 
rectly it may be of value, you know; you have only 
to put it into words to gain the reputation of be- 
ing excellent company for the remainder of your 
existence." 



The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 



The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 




5 he Lord St. Simon marriage, and its cu- 
rious termination, have long ceased to 
be a subject of interest in those exalted 
circles in which the unfortunate bride- 
groom moves. Fresh scandals have eclipsed it, and 
their more piquant details have drawn the gos- 
sips away from this four-year-old drama. As I 
have reason to believe, however, that the full facts 
have never been revealed to the general public, and 
as my friend Sherlock Holmes had a considerable 
share in clearing the matter up, I feel that no mem- 
oir of him would be complete without some little 
sketch of this remarkable episode. 

It was a few weeks before my own marriage, 
during the days when I was still sharing rooms 
with Holmes in Baker Street, that he came home 
from an afternoon stroll to find a letter on the table 
waiting for him. I had remained indoors all day, 
for the weather had taken a sudden turn to rain, 
with high autumnal winds, and the Jezail bullet 
which I had brought back in one of my limbs as a 
relic of my Afghan campaign throbbed with dull 
persistence. With my body in one easy-chair and 
my legs upon another, I had surrounded myself 
with a cloud of newspapers until at last, saturated 
with the news of the day, I tossed them all aside 
and lay listless, watching the huge crest and mono- 
gram upon the envelope upon the table and won- 
dering lazily who my friend's noble correspondent 
could be. 

"Here is a very fashionable epistle," I remarked 
as he entered. "Your morning letters, if I remem- 
ber right, were from a fish-monger and a tide- 
waiter." 

"Yes, my correspondence has certainly the 
charm of variety," he answered, smiling, "and the 
humbler are usually the more interesting. This 
looks like one of those unwelcome social sum- 
monses which call upon a man either to be bored 
or to lie." 

He broke the seal and glanced over the con- 
tents. 

"Oh, come, it may prove to be something of in- 
terest, after all." 

"Not social, then?" 

"No, distinctly professional." 

"And from a noble client?" 

"One of the highest in England." 

"My dear fellow, I congratulate you." 

"I assure you, Watson, without affectation, that 
the status of my client is a matter of less moment 
to me than the interest of his case. It is just possi- 
ble, however, that that also may not be wanting in 



this new investigation. You have been reading the 
papers diligently of late, have you not?" 

"It looks like it," said I ruefully, pointing to a 
huge bundle in the corner. "I have had nothing 
else to do." 

"It is fortunate, for you will perhaps be able 
to post me up. I read nothing except the criminal 
news and the agony column. The latter is always 
instructive. But if you have followed recent events 
so closely you must have read about Lord St. Si- 
mon and his wedding?" 

"Oh, yes, with the deepest interest." 

"That is well. The letter which I hold in my 
hand is from Lord St. Simon. I will read it to you, 
and in return you must turn over these papers and 
let me have whatever bears upon the matter. This 
is what he says: 

" 'My dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes: 

" 'Lord Backwater tells me that I may 
place implicit reliance upon your judg- 
ment and discretion. I have deter- 
mined, therefore, to call upon you and 
to consult you in reference to the very 
painful event which has occurred in 
connection with my wedding. Mr. 
Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, is acting 
already in the matter, but he assures 
me that he sees no objection to your 
co-operation, and that he even thinks 
that it might be of some assistance. I 
will call at four o'clock in the after- 
noon, and, should you have any other 
engagement at that time, I hope that 
you will postpone it, as this matter is 
of paramount importance. 

" 'Yours faithfully, 
" 'St. Simon.' 

"It is dated from Grosvenor Mansions, written 
with a quill pen, and the noble lord has had the 
misfortune to get a smear of ink upon the outer 
side of his right little finger," remarked Holmes as 
he folded up the epistle. 

"He says four o'clock. It is three now. He will 
be here in an hour." 

"Then I have just time, with your assistance, 
to get clear upon the subject. Turn over those 
papers and arrange the extracts in their order of 
time, while I take a glance as to who our client 
is." He picked a red-covered volume from a line of 
books of reference beside the mantelpiece. "Here 
he is," said he, sitting down and flattening it out 
upon his knee. " 'Lord Robert Walsingham de Vere 



239 



The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 



St. Simon, second son of the Duke of Balmoral.' 
Hum! 'Arms: Azure, three caltrops in chief over 
a fess sable. Born in 1846.' He's forty-one years 
of age, which is mature for marriage. Was Under- 
Secretary for the colonies in a late administration. 
The Duke, his father, was at one time Secretary for 
Foreign Affairs. They inherit Plantagenet blood by 
direct descent, and Tudor on the distaff side. Ha! 
Well, there is nothing very instructive in all this. 
I think that I must turn to you Watson, for some- 
thing more solid." 

"I have very little difficulty in finding what I 
want," said I, "for the facts are quite recent, and 
the matter struck me as remarkable. I feared to re- 
fer them to you, however, as I knew that you had 
an inquiry on hand and that you disliked the in- 
trusion of other matters." 

"Oh, you mean the little problem of the 
Grosvenor Square furniture van. That is quite 
cleared up now — though, indeed, it was obvious 
from the first. Pray give me the results of your 
newspaper selections." 

"Here is the first notice which I can find. It is 
in the personal column of the Morning Post, and 
dates, as you see, some weeks back: 

" 'A marriage has been arranged [it says] 
and will, if rumour is correct, very shortly 
take place, between Lord Robert St. Simon, 
second son of the Duke of Balmoral, and 
Miss Hatty Doran, the only daughter of 
Aloysius Doran. Esq., of San Francisco, 
Cal., U.S.A.' 

That is all." 

"Terse and to the point," remarked Holmes, 
stretching his long, thin legs towards the fire. 

"There was a paragraph amplifying this in one 
of the society papers of the same week. Ah, here it 

is: 

" 'There will soon be a call for protection 
in the marriage market, for the present 
free-trade principle appears to tell heavily 
against our home product. One by one the 
management of the noble houses of Great 
Britain is passing into the hands of our 
fair cousins from across the Atlantic. An 
important addition has been made during 
the last week to the list of the prizes which 
have been borne away by these charming 
invaders. Lord St. Simon, who has shown 
himself for over twenty years proof against 
the little god's arrows, has now definitely 
announced his approaching marriage with 



Miss Hatty Doran, the fascinating daugh- 
ter of a California millionaire. Miss Do- 
ran, whose graceful figure and striking face 
attracted much attention at the Westbury 
House festivities, is an only child, and it is 
currently reported that her dowry will run 
to considerably over the six figures, with 
expectancies for the future. As it is an open 
secret that the Duke of Balmoral has been 
compelled to sell his pictures within the last 
few years, and as Lord St. Simon has no 
property of his own save the small estate 
of Birchmoor, it is obvious that the Calif or- 
nian heiress is not the only gainer by an 
alliance which will enable her to make the 
easy and common transition from a Repub- 
lican lady to a British peeress.' " 

"Anything else?" asked Holmes, yawning. 

"Oh, yes; plenty. Then there is another note in 
the Morning Post to say that the marriage would 
be an absolutely quiet one, that it would be at St. 
George's, Hanover Square, that only half a dozen 
intimate friends would be invited, and that the 
party would return to the furnished house at Lan- 
caster Gate which has been taken by Mr. Aloysius 
Doran. Two days later — that is, on Wednesday 
last — there is a curt announcement that the wed- 
ding had taken place, and that the honeymoon 
would be passed at Lord Backwater's place, near 
Petersfield. Those are all the notices which ap- 
peared before the disappearance of the bride." 

"Before the what?" asked Holmes with a start. 

"The vanishing of the lady." 

"When did she vanish, then?" 

"At the wedding breakfast." 

"Indeed. This is more interesting than it 
promised to be; quite dramatic, in fact." 

"Yes; it struck me as being a little out of the 
common." 

"They often vanish before the ceremony, and 
occasionally during the honeymoon; but I cannot 
call to mind anything quite so prompt as this. Pray 
let me have the details." 

"I warn you that they are very incomplete." 

"Perhaps we may make them less so." 

"Such as they are, they are set forth in a sin- 
gle article of a morning paper of yesterday, which 
I will read to you. It is headed, 'Singular Occur- 
rence at a Fashionable Wedding': 



240 



The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 



" 'The family of Lord Robert St. Simon has 
been thrown into the greatest consterna- 
tion by the strange and painful episodes 
which have taken place in connection with 
his wedding. The ceremony, as shortly 
announced in the papers of yesterday, oc- 
curred on the previous morning; but it is 
only now that it has been possible to con- 
firm the strange rumours which have been 
so persistently floating about. In spite of 
the attempts of the friends to hush the mat- 
ter up, so much public attention has now 
been drawn to it that no good purpose can 
be served by affecting to disregard what is 
a common subject for conversation. 

"'The ceremony, which was performed at 
St. George's, Hanover Square, was a very 
quiet one, no one being present save the 
father of the bride, Mr. Aloysius Doran, 
the Duchess of Balmoral, Lord Backwater, 
Lord Eustace and Lady Clara St. Simon 
(the younger brother and sister of the bride- 
groom), and Lady Alicia Whittington. The 
whole party proceeded afterwards to the 
house of Mr. Aloysius Doran, at Lancaster 
Gate, where breakfast had been prepared. It 
appears that some little trouble was caused 
by a woman, whose name has not been 
ascertained, who endeavoured to force her 
way into the house after the bridal party, 
alleging that she had some claim upon Lord 
St. Simon. It was only after a painful 
and prolonged scene that she was ejected 
by the butler and the footman. The bride, 
who had fortunately entered the house be- 
fore this unpleasant interruption, had sat 
down to breakfast with the rest, when she 
complained of a sudden indisposition and 
retired to her room. Her prolonged absence 
having caused some comment, her father 
followed her, but learned from her maid that 
she had only come up to her chamber for 
an instant, caught up an ulster and bon- 
net, and hurried down to the passage. One 
of the footmen declared that he had seen a 
lady leave the house thus apparelled, but 
had refused to credit that it was his mis- 
tress, believing her to be with the com- 
pany. On ascertaining that his daughter 
had disappeared, Mr. Aloysius Doran, in 
conjunction with the bridegroom, instantly 
put themselves in communication with the 
police, and very energetic inquiries are be- 
ing made, which will probably result in 
a speedy clearing up of this very singu- 



lar business. Up to a late hour last night, 
however, nothing had transpired as to the 
whereabouts of the missing lady. There are 
rumours of foul play in the matter, and it is 
said that the police have caused the arrest of 
the woman who had caused the original dis- 
turbance, in the belief that, from jealousy or 
some other motive, she may have been con- 
cerned in the strange disappearance of the 
bride.' " 

"And is that all?" 

"Only one little item in another of the morning 
papers, but it is a suggestive one." 

"And it is—" 

"That Miss Flora Millar, the lady who had 
caused the disturbance, has actually been arrested. 
It appears that she was formerly a danseuse at the 
Allegro, and that she has known the bridegroom 
for some years. There are no further particulars, 
and the whole case is in your hands now — so far 
as it has been set forth in the public press." 

"And an exceedingly interesting case it appears 
to be. I would not have missed it for worlds. But 
there is a ring at the bell, Watson, and as the clock 
makes it a few minutes after four, I have no doubt 
that this will prove to be our noble client. Do not 
dream of going, Watson, for I very much prefer 
having a witness, if only as a check to my own 
memory. " 

"Lord Robert St. Simon," announced our page- 
boy, throwing open the door. A gentleman en- 
tered, with a pleasant, cultured face, high-nosed 
and pale, with something perhaps of petulance 
about the mouth, and with the steady, well-opened 
eye of a man whose pleasant lot it had ever been 
to command and to be obeyed. His manner was 
brisk, and yet his general appearance gave an un- 
due impression of age, for he had a slight for- 
ward stoop and a little bend of the knees as he 
walked. His hair, too, as he swept off his very 
curly-brimmed hat, was grizzled round the edges 
and thin upon the top. As to his dress, it was care- 
ful to the verge of foppishness, with high collar, 
black frock-coat, white waistcoat, yellow gloves, 
patent-leather shoes, and light-coloured gaiters. 
He advanced slowly into the room, turning his 
head from left to right, and swinging in his right 
hand the cord which held his golden eyeglasses. 

"Good-day, Lord St. Simon," said Holmes, ris- 
ing and bowing. "Pray take the basket-chair. This 
is my friend and colleague, Dr. Watson. Draw up a 
little to the fire, and we will talk this matter over. " 



241 



The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 



"A most painful matter to me, as you can most 
readily imagine, Mr. Holmes. I have been cut to the 
quick. I understand that you have already man- 
aged several delicate cases of this sort, sir, though 
I presume that they were hardly from the same 
class of society." 

"No, I am descending." 

"I beg pardon." 

"My last client of the sort was a king." 

"Oh, really! I had no idea. And which king?" 

"The King of Scandinavia." 

"What! Had he lost his wife?" 

"You can understand," said Holmes suavely, 
"that I extend to the affairs of my other clients the 
same secrecy which I promise to you in yours." 

"Of course! Very right! very right! I'm sure 
I beg pardon. As to my own case, I am ready to 
give you any information which may assist you in 
forming an opinion." 

"Thank you. I have already learned all that is 
in the public prints, nothing more. I presume that 
I may take it as correct — this article, for example, 
as to the disappearance of the bride." 

Lord St. Simon glanced over it. "Yes, it is cor- 
rect, as far as it goes." 

"But it needs a great deal of supplementing be- 
fore anyone could offer an opinion. I think that I 
may arrive at my facts most directly by question- 
ing you." 

"Pray do so." 

"When did you first meet Miss Hatty Doran?" 

"In San Francisco, a year ago." 

"You were travelling in the States?" 

"Yes." 

"Did you become engaged then?" 

"No." 

"But you were on a friendly footing?" 

"I was amused by her society, and she could 
see that I was amused." 

"Her father is very rich?" 

"He is said to be the richest man on the Pacific 
slope." 

"And how did he make his money?" 

"In mining. He had nothing a few years ago. 
Then he struck gold, invested it, and came up by 
leaps and bounds." 

"Now, what is your own impression as to the 
young lady's — your wife's character?" 



The nobleman swung his glasses a little faster 
and stared down into the fire. "You see, Mr. 
Holmes," said he, "my wife was twenty before her 
father became a rich man. During that time she 
ran free in a mining camp and wandered through 
woods or mountains, so that her education has 
come from Nature rather than from the schoolmas- 
ter. She is what we call in England a tomboy, with 
a strong nature, wild and free, unfettered by any 
sort of traditions. She is impetuous — volcanic, I 
was about to say. She is swift in making up her 
mind and fearless in carrying out her resolutions. 
On the other hand, I would not have given her the 
name which I have the honour to bear" — he gave 
a little stately cough — "had not I thought her to 
be at bottom a noble woman. I believe that she 
is capable of heroic self-sacrifice and that anything 
dishonourable would be repugnant to her." 

"Have you her photograph?" 

"I brought this with me." He opened a locket 
and showed us the full face of a very lovely 
woman. It was not a photograph but an ivory 
miniature, and the artist had brought out the full 
effect of the lustrous black hair, the large dark 
eyes, and the exquisite mouth. Holmes gazed long 
and earnestly at it. Then he closed the locket and 
handed it back to Lord St. Simon. 

"The young lady came to London, then, and 
you renewed your acquaintance?" 

"Yes, her father brought her over for this last 
London season. I met her several times, became 
engaged to her, and have now married her." 

"She brought, I understand, a considerable 
dowry?" 

"A fair dowry. Not more than is usual in my 
family." 

"And this, of course, remains to you, since the 
marriage is a fait accompli?" 

"I really have made no inquiries on the sub- 
ject." 

"Very naturally not. Did you see Miss Doran 
on the day before the wedding?" 

"Yes." 

"Was she in good spirits?" 

"Never better. She kept talking of what we 
should do in our future lives." 

"Indeed! That is very interesting. And on the 
morning of the wedding?" 

"She was as bright as possible — at least until 
after the ceremony." 

"And did you observe any change in her then?" 

"Well, to tell the truth, I saw then the first signs 
that I had ever seen that her temper was just a lit- 
tle sharp. The incident however, was too trivial to 



242 



The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 



relate and can have no possible bearing upon the 
case." 

"Pray let us have it, for all that. " 

"Oh, it is childish. She dropped her bouquet 
as we went towards the vestry. She was passing 
the front pew at the time, and it fell over into 
the pew. There was a moment's delay, but the 
gentleman in the pew handed it up to her again, 
and it did not appear to be the worse for the fall. 
Yet when I spoke to her of the matter, she an- 
swered me abruptly; and in the carriage, on our 
way home, she seemed absurdly agitated over this 
trifling cause." 

"Indeed! You say that there was a gentleman in 
the pew. Some of the general public were present, 
then?" 

"Oh, yes. It is impossible to exclude them when 
the church is open." 

"This gentleman was not one of your wife's 
friends?" 

"No, no; I call him a gentleman by courtesy, but 
he was quite a common-looking person. I hardly 
noticed his appearance. But really I think that we 
are wandering rather far from the point." 

"Lady St. Simon, then, returned from the wed- 
ding in a less cheerful frame of mind than she had 
gone to it. What did she do on re-entering her fa- 
ther's house?" 

"I saw her in conversation with her maid." 

"And who is her maid?" 

"Alice is her name. She is an American and 
came from California with her." 

"A confidential servant?" 

"A little too much so. It seemed to me that her 
mistress allowed her to take great liberties. Still, of 
course, in America they look upon these things in 
a different way." 

"How long did she speak to this Alice?" 

"Oh, a few minutes. I had something else to 
think of." 

"You did not overhear what they said?" 

"Lady St. Simon said something about 'jump- 
ing a claim.' She was accustomed to use slang of 
the kind. I have no idea what she meant." 

"American slang is very expressive sometimes. 
And what did your wife do when she finished 
speaking to her maid?" 

"She walked into the breakfast-room. " 

"On your arm?" 



"No, alone. She was very independent in lit- 
tle matters like that. Then, after we had sat down 
for ten minutes or so, she rose hurriedly, muttered 
some words of apology, and left the room. She 
never came back." 

"But this maid, Alice, as I understand, deposes 
that she went to her room, covered her bride's 
dress with a long ulster, put on a bonnet, and went 
out." 

"Quite so. And she was afterwards seen walk- 
ing into Hyde Park in company with Flora Millar, 
a woman who is now in custody, and who had 
already made a disturbance at Mr. Doran's house 
that morning." 

"Ah, yes. I should like a few particulars as to 
this young lady, and your relations to her." 

Lord St. Simon shrugged his shoulders and 
raised his eyebrows. "We have been on a friendly 
footing for some years — I may say on a very 
friendly footing. She used to be at the Allegro. I 
have not treated her ungenerously, and she had no 
just cause of complaint against me, but you know 
what women are, Mr. Holmes. Flora was a dear 
little thing, but exceedingly hot-headed and devot- 
edly attached to me. She wrote me dreadful letters 
when she heard that I was about to be married, 
and, to tell the truth, the reason why I had the 
marriage celebrated so quietly was that I feared 
lest there might be a scandal in the church. She 
came to Mr. Doran's door just after we returned, 
and she endeavoured to push her way in, utter- 
ing very abusive expressions towards my wife, and 
even threatening her, but I had foreseen the possi- 
bility of something of the sort, and I had two police 
fellows there in private clothes, who soon pushed 
her out again. She was quiet when she saw that 
there was no good in making a row." 

"Did your wife hear all this?" 

"No, thank goodness, she did not." 

"And she was seen walking with this very 
woman afterwards?" 

"Yes. That is what Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland 
Yard, looks upon as so serious. It is thought that 
Flora decoyed my wife out and laid some terrible 
trap for her." 

"Well, it is a possible supposition." 

"You think so, too?" 

"I did not say a probable one. But you do not 
yourself look upon this as likely?" 

"I do not think Flora would hurt a fly." 



243 



The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 



"Still, jealousy is a strange transformer of char- 
acters. Pray what is your own theory as to what 
took place?" 

"Well, really, I came to seek a theory, not to 
propound one. I have given you all the facts. Since 
you ask me, however, I may say that it has occurred 
to me as possible that the excitement of this affair, 
the consciousness that she had made so immense 
a social stride, had the effect of causing some little 
nervous disturbance in my wife." 

"In short, that she had become suddenly de- 
ranged?" 

"Well, really, when I consider that she has 
turned her back — I will not say upon me, but upon 
so much that many have aspired to without suc- 
cess — I can hardly explain it in any other fashion." 

"Well, certainly that is also a conceivable hy- 
pothesis," said Holmes, smiling. "And now, Lord 
St. Simon, I think that I have nearly all my 
data. May I ask whether you were seated at the 
breakfast-table so that you could see out of the 
window?" 

"We could see the other side of the road and 
the Park." 

"Quite so. Then I do not think that I need to 
detain you longer. I shall communicate with you." 

"Should you be fortunate enough to solve this 
problem," said our client, rising. 

"I have solved it." 

"Eh? What was that?" 

"I say that I have solved it." 

"Where, then, is my wife?" 

"That is a detail which I shall speedily supply. " 

Lord St. Simon shook his head. "I am 
afraid that it will take wiser heads than yours or 
mine," he remarked, and bowing in a stately, old- 
fashioned manner he departed. 

"It is very good of Lord St. Simon to honour my 
head by putting it on a level with his own," said 
Sherlock Holmes, laughing. "I think that I shall 
have a whisky and soda and a cigar after all this 
cross-questioning. I had formed my conclusions as 
to the case before our client came into the room." 

"My dear Holmes!" 

"I have notes of several similar cases, though 
none, as I remarked before, which were quite as 
prompt. My whole examination served to turn 
my conjecture into a certainty. Circumstantial ev- 
idence is occasionally very convincing, as when 
you find a trout in the milk, to quote Thoreau's 
example." 



"But I have heard all that you have heard." 

"Without, however, the knowledge of pre- 
existing cases which serves me so well. There was 
a parallel instance in Aberdeen some years back, 
and something on very much the same lines at 
Munich the year after the Franco-Prussian War. It 
is one of these cases — but, hullo, here is Lestrade! 
Good-afternoon, Lestrade! You will find an extra 
tumbler upon the sideboard, and there are cigars 
in the box." 

The official detective was attired in a pea-jacket 
and cravat, which gave him a decidedly nautical 
appearance, and he carried a black canvas bag in 
his hand. With a short greeting he seated himself 
and lit the cigar which had been offered to him. 

"What's up, then?" asked Holmes with a twin- 
kle in his eye. "You look dissatisfied." 

"And I feel dissatisfied. It is this infernal St. 
Simon marriage case. I can make neither head nor 
tail of the business." 

"Really! You surprise me." 

"Who ever heard of such a mixed affair? Every 
clue seems to slip through my fingers. I have been 
at work upon it all day." 

"And very wet it seems to have made you," 
said Holmes laying his hand upon the arm of the 
pea-jacket. 

"Yes, I have been dragging the Serpentine." 
"In heaven's name, what for?" 
"In search of the body of Lady St. Simon." 
Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his chair and 
laughed heartily. 

"Have you dragged the basin of Trafalgar 
Square fountain?" he asked. 
"Why? What do you mean?" 

"Because you have just as good a chance of 
finding this lady in the one as in the other." 

Lestrade shot an angry glance at my compan- 
ion. "I suppose you know all about it," he snarled. 

"Well, I have only just heard the facts, but my 
mind is made up." 

"Oh, indeed! Then you think that the Serpen- 
tine plays no part in the matter?" 

"I think it very unlikely." 

"Then perhaps you will kindly explain how it 
is that we found this in it?" He opened his bag as 
he spoke, and tumbled onto the floor a wedding- 
dress of watered silk, a pair of white satin shoes 
and a bride's wreath and veil, all discoloured and 
soaked in water. "There," said he, putting a new 
wedding-ring upon the top of the pile. "There is a 
little nut for you to crack, Master Holmes." 



244 



The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 



"Oh, indeed!" said my friend, blowing blue 
rings into the air. "You dragged them from the 
Serpentine?" 

"No. They were found floating near the mar- 
gin by a park-keeper. They have been identified as 
her clothes, and it seemed to me that if the clothes 
were there the body would not be far off." 

"By the same brilliant reasoning, every man's 
body is to be found in the neighbourhood of his 
wardrobe. And pray what did you hope to arrive 
at through this?" 

"At some evidence implicating Flora Millar in 
the disappearance." 

"I am afraid that you will find it difficult." 

"Are you, indeed, now?" cried Lestrade with 
some bitterness. "I am afraid, Holmes, that you 
are not very practical with your deductions and 
your inferences. You have made two blunders in 
as many minutes. This dress does implicate Miss 
Flora Millar." 

"And how?" 

"In the dress is a pocket. In the pocket is a 
card-case. In the card-case is a note. And here is 
the very note." He slapped it down upon the table 
in front of him. "Listen to this: 

" 'You will see me when all is ready. 
Come at once. 

" 'F.H.M.' 

Now my theory all along has been that Lady St. 
Simon was decoyed away by Flora Millar, and that 
she, with confederates, no doubt, was responsible 
for her disappearance. Here, signed with her ini- 
tials, is the very note which was no doubt quietly 
slipped into her hand at the door and which lured 
her within their reach." 

"Very good, Lestrade," said Holmes, laughing. 
"You really are very fine indeed. Let me see it." He 
took up the paper in a listless way, but his attention 
instantly became riveted, and he gave a little cry of 
satisfaction. "This is indeed important," said he. 

"Ha! you find it so?" 

"Extremely so. I congratulate you warmly." 

Lestrade rose in his triumph and bent his head 
to look. "Why," he shrieked, "you're looking at the 
wrong side!" 

"On the contrary, this is the right side." 

"The right side? You're mad! Here is the note 
written in pencil over here." 

"And over here is what appears to be the frag- 
ment of a hotel bill, which interests me deeply. " 

"There's nothing in it. I looked at it before," 
said Lestrade. 



" 'Oct. 4th, rooms 8s., breakfast 2s. 
6d., cocktail is., lunch 2s. 6d., glass 
sherry, 8d.' I see nothing in that." 

"Very likely not. It is most important, all the 
same. As to the note, it is important also, or at 
least the initials are, so I congratulate you again." 

"I've wasted time enough," said Lestrade, ris- 
ing. "I believe in hard work and not in sitting 
by the fire spinning fine theories. Good-day, Mr. 
Holmes, and we shall see which gets to the bottom 
of the matter first. " He gathered up the garments, 
thrust them into the bag, and made for the door. 

"Just one hint to you, Lestrade," drawled 
Holmes before his rival vanished; "I will tell you 
the true solution of the matter. Lady St. Simon is a 
myth. There is not, and there never has been, any 
such person." 

Lestrade looked sadly at my companion. Then 
he turned to me, tapped his forehead three times, 
shook his head solemnly, and hurried away. 

He had hardly shut the door behind him when 
Holmes rose to put on his overcoat. "There is 
something in what the fellow says about outdoor 
work," he remarked, "so I think, Watson, that I 
must leave you to your papers for a little." 

It was after five o'clock when Sherlock Holmes 
left me, but I had no time to be lonely, for within 
an hour there arrived a confectioner's man with a 
very large flat box. This he unpacked with the help 
of a youth whom he had brought with him, and 
presently, to my very great astonishment, a quite 
epicurean little cold supper began to be laid out 
upon our humble lodging-house mahogany. There 
were a couple of brace of cold woodcock, a pheas- 
ant, a pat e de foie gras pie with a group of ancient 
and cobwebby bottles. Having laid out all these 
luxuries, my two visitors vanished away, like the 
genii of the Arabian Nights, with no explanation 
save that the things had been paid for and were 
ordered to this address. 

Just before nine o'clock Sherlock Holmes 
stepped briskly into the room. His features were 
gravely set, but there was a light in his eye which 
made me think that he had not been disappointed 
in his conclusions. 

"They have laid the supper, then," he said, rub- 
bing his hands. 

"You seem to expect company. They have laid 
for five." 

"Yes, I fancy we may have some company drop- 
ping in," said he. "I am surprised that Lord St. 



245 



The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 



Simon has not already arrived. Ha! I fancy that I 
hear his step now upon the stairs." 

It was indeed our visitor of the afternoon who 
came bustling in, dangling his glasses more vigor- 
ously than ever, and with a very perturbed expres- 
sion upon his aristocratic features. 

"My messenger reached you, then?" asked 
Holmes. 

"Yes, and I confess that the contents startled 
me beyond measure. Have you good authority for 
what you say?" 

"The best possible." 

Lord St. Simon sank into a chair and passed his 
hand over his forehead. 

"What will the Duke say," he murmured, 
"when he hears that one of the family has been 
subjected to such humiliation?" 

"It is the purest accident. I cannot allow that 
there is any humiliation." 

"Ah, you look on these things from another 
standpoint." 

"I fail to see that anyone is to blame. I can 
hardly see how the lady could have acted other- 
wise, though her abrupt method of doing it was 
undoubtedly to be regretted. Having no mother, 
she had no one to advise her at such a crisis." 

"It was a slight, sir, a public slight," said Lord 
St. Simon, tapping his fingers upon the table. 

"You must make allowance for this poor girl, 
placed in so unprecedented a position." 

"I will make no allowance. I am very angry 
indeed, and I have been shamefully used." 

"I think that I heard a ring," said Holmes. "Yes, 
there are steps on the landing. If I cannot persuade 
you to take a lenient view of the matter, Lord St. 
Simon, I have brought an advocate here who may 
be more successful." He opened the door and ush- 
ered in a lady and gentleman. "Lord St. Simon," 
said he "allow me to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. 
Francis Hay Moulton. The lady, I think, you have 
already met." 

At the sight of these newcomers our client had 
sprung from his seat and stood very erect, with his 
eyes cast down and his hand thrust into the breast 
of his frock-coat, a picture of offended dignity. The 
lady had taken a quick step forward and had held 
out her hand to him, but he still refused to raise 
his eyes. It was as well for his resolution, perhaps, 
for her pleading face was one which it was hard to 
resist. 

"You're angry, Robert," said she. "Well, I guess 
you have every cause to be." 



"Pray make no apology to me," said Lord St. 
Simon bitterly. 

"Oh, yes, I know that I have treated you real 
bad and that I should have spoken to you before I 
went; but I was kind of rattled, and from the time 
when I saw Frank here again I just didn't know 
what I was doing or saying. I only wonder I didn't 
fall down and do a faint right there before the al- 
tar." 

"Perhaps, Mrs. Moulton, you would like my 
friend and me to leave the room while you explain 
this matter?" 

"If I may give an opinion," remarked the 
strange gentleman, "we've had just a little too 
much secrecy over this business already. For my 
part, I should like all Europe and America to hear 
the rights of it." He was a small, wiry, sunburnt 
man, clean-shaven, with a sharp face and alert 
manner. 

"Then I'll tell our story right away," said the 
lady. "Frank here and I met in '84, in McQuire's 
camp, near the Rockies, where pa was working 
a claim. We were engaged to each other, Frank 
and I; but then one day father struck a rich pocket 
and made a pile, while poor Frank here had a 
claim that petered out and came to nothing. The 
richer pa grew the poorer was Frank; so at last 
pa wouldn't hear of our engagement lasting any 
longer, and he took me away to 'Frisco. Frank 
wouldn't throw up his hand, though; so he fol- 
lowed me there, and he saw me without pa know- 
ing anything about it. It would only have made 
him mad to know, so we just fixed it all up for 
ourselves. Frank said that he would go and make 
his pile, too, and never come back to claim me un- 
til he had as much as pa. So then I promised to 
wait for him to the end of time and pledged my- 
self not to marry anyone else while he lived. 'Why 
shouldn't we be married right away, then,' said he, 
'and then I will feel sure of you; and I won't claim 
to be your husband until I come back?' Well, we 
talked it over, and he had fixed it all up so nicely, 
with a clergyman all ready in waiting, that we just 
did it right there; and then Frank went off to seek 
his fortune, and I went back to pa. 

"The next I heard of Frank was that he was 
in Montana, and then he went prospecting in Ari- 
zona, and then I heard of him from New Mexico. 
After that came a long newspaper story about how 
a miners' camp had been attacked by Apache In- 
dians, and there was my Frank's name among the 
killed. I fainted dead away, and I was very sick 
for months after. Pa thought I had a decline and 
took me to half the doctors in 'Frisco. Not a word 



246 



The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 



of news came for a year and more, so that I never 
doubted that Frank was really dead. Then Lord St. 
Simon came to 'Frisco, and we came to London, 
and a marriage was arranged, and pa was very 
pleased, but I felt all the time that no man on this 
earth would ever take the place in my heart that 
had been given to my poor Frank. 

"Still, if I had married Lord St. Simon, of course 
I'd have done my duty by him. We can't command 
our love, but we can our actions. I went to the al- 
tar with him with the intention to make him just 
as good a wife as it was in me to be. But you may 
imagine what I felt when, just as I came to the al- 
tar rails, I glanced back and saw Frank standing 
and looking at me out of the first pew. I thought 
it was his ghost at first; but when I looked again 
there he was still, with a kind of question in his 
eyes, as if to ask me whether I were glad or sorry 
to see him. I wonder I didn't drop. I know that ev- 
erything was turning round, and the words of the 
clergyman were just like the buzz of a bee in my 
ear. I didn't know what to do. Should I stop the 
service and make a scene in the church? I glanced 
at him again, and he seemed to know what I was 
thinking, for he raised his finger to his lips to tell 
me to be still. Then I saw him scribble on a piece of 
paper, and I knew that he was writing me a note. 
As I passed his pew on the way out I dropped my 
bouquet over to him, and he slipped the note into 
my hand when he returned me the flowers. It was 
only a line asking me to join him when he made 
the sign to me to do so. Of course I never doubted 
for a moment that my first duty was now to him, 
and I determined to do just whatever he might di- 
rect. 

"When I got back I told my maid, who had 
known him in California, and had always been his 
friend. I ordered her to say nothing, but to get a 
few things packed and my ulster ready. I know I 
ought to have spoken to Lord St. Simon, but it was 
dreadful hard before his mother and all those great 
people. I just made up my mind to run away and 
explain afterwards. I hadn't been at the table ten 
minutes before I saw Frank out of the window at 
the other side of the road. He beckoned to me and 
then began walking into the Park. I slipped out, 
put on my things, and followed him. Some woman 
came talking something or other about Lord St. Si- 
mon to me — seemed to me from the little I heard 
as if he had a little secret of his own before mar- 
riage also — but I managed to get away from her 
and soon overtook Frank. We got into a cab to- 
gether, and away we drove to some lodgings he 
had taken in Gordon Square, and that was my true 
wedding after all those years of waiting. Frank had 



been a prisoner among the Apaches, had escaped, 
came on to 'Frisco, found that I had given him up 
for dead and had gone to England, followed me 
there, and had come upon me at last on the very 
morning of my second wedding." 

"I saw it in a paper," explained the American. 
"It gave the name and the church but not where 
the lady lived." 

"Then we had a talk as to what we should 
do, and Frank was all for openness, but I was so 
ashamed of it all that I felt as if I should like to van- 
ish away and never see any of them again — just 
sending a line to pa, perhaps, to show him that 
I was alive. It was awful to me to think of all 
those lords and ladies sitting round that breakfast- 
table and waiting for me to come back. So Frank 
took my wedding-clothes and things and made a 
bundle of them, so that I should not be traced, 
and dropped them away somewhere where no one 
could find them. It is likely that we should have 
gone on to Paris to-morrow, only that this good 
gentleman, Mr. Holmes, came round to us this 
evening, though how he found us is more than 
I can think, and he showed us very clearly and 
kindly that I was wrong and that Frank was right, 
and that we should be putting ourselves in the 
wrong if we were so secret. Then he offered to give 
us a chance of talking to Lord St. Simon alone, and 
so we came right away round to his rooms at once. 
Now, Robert, you have heard it all, and I am very 
sorry if I have given you pain, and I hope that you 
do not think very meanly of me." 

Lord St. Simon had by no means relaxed his 
rigid attitude, but had listened with a frowning 
brow and a compressed lip to this long narrative. 

"Excuse me," he said, "but it is not my custom 
to discuss my most intimate personal affairs in this 
public manner." 

"Then you won't forgive me? You won't shake 
hands before I go?" 

"Oh, certainly, if it would give you any plea- 
sure." He put out his hand and coldly grasped that 
which she extended to him. 

"I had hoped," suggested Holmes, "that you 
would have joined us in a friendly supper." 

"I think that there you ask a little too much," 
responded his Lordship. "I may be forced to acqui- 
esce in these recent developments, but I can hardly 
be expected to make merry over them. I think that 
with your permission I will now wish you all a 
very good-night." He included us all in a sweep- 
ing bow and stalked out of the room. 



247 



"Then I trust that you at least will honour me 
with your company," said Sherlock Holmes. "It is 
always a joy to meet an American, Mr. Moulton, 
for I am one of those who believe that the folly 
of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in 
far-gone years will not prevent our children from 
being some day citizens of the same world-wide 
country under a flag which shall be a quartering 
of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes." 

"The case has been an interesting one," re- 
marked Holmes when our visitors had left us, "be- 
cause it serves to show very clearly how simple the 
explanation may be of an affair which at first sight 
seems to be almost inexplicable. Nothing could be 
more natural than the sequence of events as nar- 
rated by this lady, and nothing stranger than the 
result when viewed, for instance, by Mr. Lestrade 
of Scotland Yard." 

"You were not yourself at fault at all, then?" 

"From the first, two facts were very obvious 
to me, the one that the lady had been quite will- 
ing to undergo the wedding ceremony, the other 
that she had repented of it within a few minutes 
of returning home. Obviously something had oc- 
curred during the morning, then, to cause her to 
change her mind. What could that something be? 
She could not have spoken to anyone when she 
was out, for she had been in the company of the 
bridegroom. Had she seen someone, then? If she 
had, it must be someone from America because 
she had spent so short a time in this country that 
she could hardly have allowed anyone to acquire 
so deep an influence over her that the mere sight of 
him would induce her to change her plans so com- 
pletely. You see we have already arrived, by a pro- 
cess of exclusion, at the idea that she might have 
seen an American. Then who could this American 
be, and why should he possess so much influence 
over her? It might be a lover; it might be a hus- 
band. Her young womanhood had, I knew, been 
spent in rough scenes and under strange condi- 
tions. So far I had got before I ever heard Lord 
St. Simon's narrative. When he told us of a man 
in a pew, of the change in the bride's manner, of 
so transparent a device for obtaining a note as the 
dropping of a bouquet, of her resort to her confi- 
dential maid, and of her very significant allusion to 



claim-jumping — which in miners' parlance means 
taking possession of that which another person has 
a prior claim to — the whole situation became ab- 
solutely clear. She had gone off with a man, and 
the man was either a lover or was a previous hus- 
band — the chances being in favour of the latter." 

"And how in the world did you find them?" 

"It might have been difficult, but friend 
Lestrade held information in his hands the value 
of which he did not himself know. The initials 
were, of course, of the highest importance, but 
more valuable still was it to know that within a 
week he had settled his bill at one of the most se- 
lect London hotels." 

"How did you deduce the select?" 

"By the select prices. Eight shillings for a bed 
and eightpence for a glass of sherry pointed to one 
of the most expensive hotels. There are not many 
in London which charge at that rate. In the sec- 
ond one which I visited in Northumberland Av- 
enue, I learned by an inspection of the book that 
Francis H. Moulton, an American gentleman, had 
left only the day before, and on looking over the 
entries against him, I came upon the very items 
which I had seen in the duplicate bill. His let- 
ters were to be forwarded to 226 Gordon Square; 
so thither I travelled, and being fortunate enough 
to find the loving couple at home, I ventured to 
give them some paternal advice and to point out 
to them that it would be better in every way that 
they should make their position a little clearer both 
to the general public and to Lord St. Simon in par- 
ticular. I invited them to meet him here, and, as 
you see, I made him keep the appointment." 

"But with no very good result," I remarked. 
"His conduct was certainly not very gracious." 

"Ah, Watson," said Holmes, smiling, "perhaps 
you would not be very gracious either, if, after all 
the trouble of wooing and wedding, you found 
yourself deprived in an instant of wife and of for- 
tune. I think that we may judge Lord St. Simon 
very mercifully and thank our stars that we are 
never likely to find ourselves in the same position. 
Draw your chair up and hand me my violin, for 
the only problem we have still to solve is how to 
while away these bleak autumnal evenings." 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 




olmes," said I as I stood one morn- 
ing in our bow-window looking down 
the street, "here is a madman coming 
along. It seems rather sad that his rel- 
atives should allow him to come out alone." 

My friend rose lazily from his armchair and 
stood with his hands in the pockets of his dressing- 
gown, looking over my shoulder. It was a bright, 
crisp February morning, and the snow of the day 
before still lay deep upon the ground, shimmer- 
ing brightly in the wintry sun. Down the centre 
of Baker Street it had been ploughed into a brown 
crumbly band by the traffic, but at either side and 
on the heaped-up edges of the foot-paths it still 
lay as white as when it fell. The grey pavement 
had been cleaned and scraped, but was still dan- 
gerously slippery, so that there were fewer pas- 
sengers than usual. Indeed, from the direction of 
the Metropolitan Station no one was coming save 
the single gentleman whose eccentric conduct had 
drawn my attention. 

He was a man of about fifty, tall, portly, and 
imposing, with a massive, strongly marked face 
and a commanding figure. He was dressed in a 
sombre yet rich style, in black frock-coat, shining 
hat, neat brown gaiters, and well-cut pearl-grey 
trousers. Yet his actions were in absurd contrast 
to the dignity of his dress and features, for he was 
running hard, with occasional little springs, such 
as a weary man gives who is little accustomed to 
set any tax upon his legs. As he ran he jerked 
his hands up and down, waggled his head, and 
writhed his face into the most extraordinary con- 
tortions. 

"What on earth can be the matter with him?" 
I asked. "He is looking up at the numbers of the 
houses." 

"I believe that he is coming here," said Holmes, 
rubbing his hands. 

"Here?" 

"Yes; I rather think he is coming to consult me 
professionally. I think that I recognise the symp- 
toms. Ha! did I not tell you?" As he spoke, the 
man, puffing and blowing, rushed at our door and 
pulled at our bell until the whole house resounded 
with the clanging. 

A few moments later he was in our room, still 
puffing, still gesticulating, but with so fixed a look 
of grief and despair in his eyes that our smiles were 
turned in an instant to horror and pity. For a while 
he could not get his words out, but swayed his 
body and plucked at his hair like one who has 
been driven to the extreme limits of his reason. 



Then, suddenly springing to his feet, he beat his 
head against the wall with such force that we both 
rushed upon him and tore him away to the centre 
of the room. Sherlock Holmes pushed him down 
into the easy-chair and, sitting beside him, patted 
his hand and chatted with him in the easy, sooth- 
ing tones which he knew so well how to employ. 

"You have come to me to tell your story, have 
you not?" said he. "You are fatigued with your 
haste. Pray wait until you have recovered yourself, 
and then I shall be most happy to look into any 
little problem which you may submit to me." 

The man sat for a minute or more with a heav- 
ing chest, fighting against his emotion. Then he 
passed his handkerchief over his brow, set his lips 
tight, and turned his face towards us. 

"No doubt you think me mad?" said he. 

"I see that you have had some great trouble," 
responded Holmes. 

"God knows I have! — a trouble which is 
enough to unseat my reason, so sudden and so 
terrible is it. Public disgrace I might have faced, 
although I am a man whose character has never 
yet borne a stain. Private affliction also is the lot 
of every man; but the two coming together, and 
in so frightful a form, have been enough to shake 
my very soul. Besides, it is not I alone. The very 
noblest in the land may suffer unless some way be 
found out of this horrible affair." 

"Pray compose yourself, sir," said Holmes, 
"and let me have a clear account of who you are 
and what it is that has befallen you." 

"My name," answered our visitor, "is proba- 
bly familiar to your ears. I am Alexander Holder, 
of the banking firm of Holder & Stevenson, of 
Threadneedle Street." 

The name was indeed well known to us as be- 
longing to the senior partner in the second largest 
private banking concern in the City of London. 
What could have happened, then, to bring one 
of the foremost citizens of London to this most 
pitiable pass? We waited, all curiosity, until with 
another effort he braced himself to tell his story. 

"I feel that time is of value," said he; "that is 
why I hastened here when the police inspector 
suggested that I should secure your co-operation. 
I came to Baker Street by the Underground and 
hurried from there on foot, for the cabs go slowly 
through this snow. That is why I was so out of 
breath, for I am a man who takes very little ex- 
ercise. I feel better now, and I will put the facts 
before you as shortly and yet as clearly as I can. 

"It is, of course, well known to you that in 
a successful banking business as much depends 



251 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 



upon our being able to find remunerative invest- 
ments for our funds as upon our increasing our 
connection and the number of our depositors. One 
of our most lucrative means of laying out money is 
in the shape of loans, where the security is unim- 
peachable. We have done a good deal in this direc- 
tion during the last few years, and there are many 
noble families to whom we have advanced large 
sums upon the security of their pictures, libraries, 
or plate. 

"Yesterday morning I was seated in my office 
at the bank when a card was brought in to me by 
one of the clerks. I started when I saw the name, 
for it was that of none other than — well, perhaps 
even to you I had better say no more than that it 
was a name which is a household word all over 
the earth — one of the highest, noblest, most ex- 
alted names in England. I was overwhelmed by 
the honour and attempted, when he entered, to say 
so, but he plunged at once into business with the 
air of a man who wishes to hurry quickly through 
a disagreeable task. 

" 'Mr. Holder,' said he, 'I have been informed 
that you are in the habit of advancing money' 

" 'The firm does so when the security is good.' 
I answered. 

" 'It is absolutely essential to me,' said he, 'that 
I should have £50,000 at once. I could, of course, 
borrow so trifling a sum ten times over from my 
friends, but I much prefer to make it a matter of 
business and to carry out that business myself. In 
my position you can readily understand that it is 
unwise to place one's self under obligations.' 

" 'For how long, may I ask, do you want this 
sum?' I asked. 

" 'Next Monday I have a large sum due to me, 
and I shall then most certainly repay what you ad- 
vance, with whatever interest you think it right 
to charge. But it is very essential to me that the 
money should be paid at once.' 

" T should be happy to advance it without fur- 
ther parley from my own private purse,' said I, 
'were it not that the strain would be rather more 
than it could bear. If, on the other hand, I am to 
do it in the name of the firm, then in justice to my 
partner I must insist that, even in your case, every 
businesslike precaution should be taken.' 

" T should much prefer to have it so,' said he, 
raising up a square, black morocco case which he 
had laid beside his chair. 'You have doubtless 
heard of the Beryl Coronet?' 

" 'One of the most precious public possessions 
of the empire,' said I. 



" 'Precisely' He opened the case, and there, 
imbedded in soft, flesh-coloured velvet, lay the 
magnificent piece of jewellery which he had 
named. 'There are thirty-nine enormous beryls,' 
said he, 'and the price of the gold chasing is incal- 
culable. The lowest estimate would put the worth 
of the coronet at double the sum which I have 
asked. I am prepared to leave it with you as my 
security' 

"I took the precious case into my hands and 
looked in some perplexity from it to my illustrious 
client. 

" 'You doubt its value?' he asked. 

" 'Not at all. I only doubt — ' 

" 'The propriety of my leaving it. You may set 
your mind at rest about that. I should not dream 
of doing so were it not absolutely certain that I 
should be able in four days to reclaim it. It is a 
pure matter of form. Is the security sufficient?' 

" 'Ample.' 

" 'You understand, Mr. Holder, that I am giv- 
ing you a strong proof of the confidence which I 
have in you, founded upon all that I have heard 
of you. I rely upon you not only to be discreet 
and to refrain from all gossip upon the matter but, 
above all, to preserve this coronet with every pos- 
sible precaution because I need not say that a great 
public scandal would be caused if any harm were 
to befall it. Any injury to it would be almost as se- 
rious as its complete loss, for there are no beryls in 
the world to match these, and it would be impos- 
sible to replace them. I leave it with you, however, 
with every confidence, and I shall call for it in per- 
son on Monday morning.' 

"Seeing that my client was anxious to leave, I 
said no more but, calling for my cashier, I ordered 
him to pay over fifty £1000 notes. When I was 
alone once more, however, with the precious case 
lying upon the table in front of me, I could not 
but think with some misgivings of the immense 
responsibility which it entailed upon me. There 
could be no doubt that, as it was a national posses- 
sion, a horrible scandal would ensue if any misfor- 
tune should occur to it. I already regretted having 
ever consented to take charge of it. However, it 
was too late to alter the matter now, so I locked it 
up in my private safe and turned once more to my 
work. 

"When evening came I felt that it would be an 
imprudence to leave so precious a thing in the of- 
fice behind me. Bankers' safes had been forced 
before now, and why should not mine be? If 
so, how terrible would be the position in which 



252 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 



I should find myself! I determined, therefore, that 
for the next few days I would always carry the case 
backward and forward with me, so that it might 
never be really out of my reach. With this inten- 
tion, I called a cab and drove out to my house 
at Streatham, carrying the jewel with me. I did 
not breathe freely until I had taken it upstairs and 
locked it in the bureau of my dressing-room. 

"And now a word as to my household, Mr. 
Holmes, for I wish you to thoroughly understand 
the situation. My groom and my page sleep out 
of the house, and may be set aside altogether. I 
have three maid-servants who have been with me 
a number of years and whose absolute reliability 
is quite above suspicion. Another, Lucy Parr, the 
second waiting-maid, has only been in my service 
a few months. She came with an excellent charac- 
ter, however, and has always given me satisfaction. 
She is a very pretty girl and has attracted admirers 
who have occasionally hung about the place. That 
is the only drawback which we have found to her, 
but we believe her to be a thoroughly good girl in 
every way. 

"So much for the servants. My family itself is 
so small that it will not take me long to describe it. 
I am a widower and have an only son, Arthur. He 
has been a disappointment to me, Mr. Holmes — a 
grievous disappointment. I have no doubt that I 
am myself to blame. People tell me that I have 
spoiled him. Very likely I have. When my dear 
wife died I felt that he was all I had to love. I could 
not bear to see the smile fade even for a moment 
from his face. I have never denied him a wish. Per- 
haps it would have been better for both of us had 
I been sterner, but I meant it for the best. 

"It was naturally my intention that he should 
succeed me in my business, but he was not of a 
business turn. He was wild, wayward, and, to 
speak the truth, I could not trust him in the han- 
dling of large sums of money. When he was young 
he became a member of an aristocratic club, and 
there, having charming manners, he was soon the 
intimate of a number of men with long purses and 
expensive habits. He learned to play heavily at 
cards and to squander money on the turf, until he 
had again and again to come to me and implore 
me to give him an advance upon his allowance, 
that he might settle his debts of honour. He tried 
more than once to break away from the dangerous 
company which he was keeping, but each time the 
influence of his friend, Sir George Burnwell, was 
enough to draw him back again. 

"And, indeed, I could not wonder that such a 
man as Sir George Burnwell should gain an in- 
fluence over him, for he has frequently brought 



him to my house, and I have found myself that I 
could hardly resist the fascination of his manner. 
He is older than Arthur, a man of the world to his 
finger-tips, one who had been everywhere, seen 
everything, a brilliant talker, and a man of great 
personal beauty. Yet when I think of him in cold 
blood, far away from the glamour of his presence, 
I am convinced from his cynical speech and the 
look which I have caught in his eyes that he is one 
who should be deeply distrusted. So I think, and 
so, too, thinks my little Mary, who has a woman's 
quick insight into character. 

"And now there is only she to be described. 
She is my niece; but when my brother died five 
years ago and left her alone in the world I adopted 
her, and have looked upon her ever since as my 
daughter. She is a sunbeam in my house — sweet, 
loving, beautiful, a wonderful manager and house- 
keeper, yet as tender and quiet and gentle as a 
woman could be. She is my right hand. I do not 
know what I could do without her. In only one 
matter has she ever gone against my wishes. Twice 
my boy has asked her to marry him, for he loves 
her devotedly, but each time she has refused him. 
I think that if anyone could have drawn him into 
the right path it would have been she, and that his 
marriage might have changed his whole life; but 
now, alas! it is too late — forever too late! 

"Now, Mr. Holmes, you know the people who 
live under my roof, and I shall continue with my 
miserable story. 

"When we were taking coffee in the drawing- 
room that night after dinner, I told Arthur and 
Mary my experience, and of the precious trea- 
sure which we had under our roof, suppressing 
only the name of my client. Lucy Parr, who had 
brought in the coffee, had, I am sure, left the room; 
but I cannot swear that the door was closed. Mary 
and Arthur were much interested and wished to 
see the famous coronet, but I thought it better not 
to disturb it. 

" 'Where have you put it?' asked Arthur. 

" 'In my own bureau.' 

" 'Well, I hope to goodness the house won't be 
burgled during the night.' said he. 

" 'It is locked up,' I answered. 

" 'Oh, any old key will fit that bureau. When I 
was a youngster I have opened it myself with the 
key of the box-room cupboard.' 

"He often had a wild way of talking, so that I 
thought little of what he said. He followed me to 
my room, however, that night with a very grave 
face. 



253 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 



" 'Look here, dad,' said he with his eyes cast 
down, 'can you let me have £200?' 

" 'No, I cannot!' I answered sharply. 'I have 
been far too generous with you in money matters.' 

" 'You have been very kind,' said he, 'but I must 
have this money, or else I can never show my face 
inside the club again.' 

" 'And a very good thing, too!' I cried. 

" 'Yes, but you would not have me leave it a 
dishonoured man,' said he. 'I could not bear the 
disgrace. I must raise the money in some way, and 
if you will not let me have it, then I must try other 
means.' 

"I was very angry, for this was the third de- 
mand during the month. 'You shall not have a 
farthing from me,' I cried, on which he bowed and 
left the room without another word. 

"When he was gone I unlocked my bureau, 
made sure that my treasure was safe, and locked it 
again. Then I started to go round the house to see 
that all was secure — a duty which I usually leave 
to Mary but which I thought it well to perform 
myself that night. As I came down the stairs I saw 
Mary herself at the side window of the hall, which 
she closed and fastened as I approached. 

" 'Tell me, dad,' said she, looking, I thought, a 
little disturbed, 'did you give Lucy, the maid, leave 
to go out to-night?' 

" 'Certainly not.' 

" 'She came in just now by the back door. I have 
no doubt that she has only been to the side gate to 
see someone, but I think that it is hardly safe and 
should be stopped.' 

" 'You must speak to her in the morning, or I 
will if you prefer it. Are you sure that everything 
is fastened?' 

" 'Quite sure, dad.' 

" 'Then, good-night.' I kissed her and went up 
to my bedroom again, where I was soon asleep. 

"I am endeavouring to tell you everything, Mr. 
Holmes, which may have any bearing upon the 
case, but I beg that you will question me upon any 
point which I do not make clear." 

"On the contrary, your statement is singularly 
lucid." 

"I come to a part of my story now in which I 
should wish to be particularly so. I am not a very 
heavy sleeper, and the anxiety in my mind tended, 
no doubt, to make me even less so than usual. 
About two in the morning, then, I was awakened 
by some sound in the house. It had ceased ere 



I was wide awake, but it had left an impression 
behind it as though a window had gently closed 
somewhere. I lay listening with all my ears. Sud- 
denly, to my horror, there was a distinct sound of 
footsteps moving softly in the next room. I slipped 
out of bed, all palpitating with fear, and peeped 
round the corner of my dressing-room door. 

" 'Arthur!' I screamed, 'you villain! you thief! 
How dare you touch that coronet?' 

"The gas was half up, as I had left it, and 
my unhappy boy, dressed only in his shirt and 
trousers, was standing beside the light, holding the 
coronet in his hands. He appeared to be wrench- 
ing at it, or bending it with all his strength. At 
my cry he dropped it from his grasp and turned 
as pale as death. I snatched it up and examined it. 
One of the gold corners, with three of the beryls in 
it, was missing. 

" 'You blackguard!' I shouted, beside myself 
with rage. 'You have destroyed it! You have dis- 
honoured me forever! Where are the jewels which 
you have stolen?' 

" 'Stolen!' he cried. 

" 'Yes, thief!' I roared, shaking him by the 
shoulder. 

" 'There are none missing. There cannot be any 
missing,' said he. 

" 'There are three missing. And you know 
where they are. Must I call you a liar as well as 
a thief? Did I not see you trying to tear off another 
piece?' 

" 'You have called me names enough,' said he, 
1 will not stand it any longer. I shall not say 
another word about this business, since you have 
chosen to insult me. I will leave your house in the 
morning and make my own way in the world.' 

" 'You shall leave it in the hands of the police!' 
I cried half-mad with grief and rage. T shall have 
this matter probed to the bottom.' 

" 'You shall learn nothing from me,' said he 
with a passion such as I should not have thought 
was in his nature. 'If you choose to call the police, 
let the police find what they can.' 

"By this time the whole house was astir, for I 
had raised my voice in my anger. Mary was the 
first to rush into my room, and, at the sight of the 
coronet and of Arthur's face, she read the whole 
story and, with a scream, fell down senseless on 
the ground. I sent the house-maid for the police 
and put the investigation into their hands at once. 
When the inspector and a constable entered the 
house, Arthur, who had stood sullenly with his 



254 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 



arms folded, asked me whether it was my inten- 
tion to charge him with theft. I answered that it 
had ceased to be a private matter, but had become 
a public one, since the ruined coronet was national 
property. I was determined that the law should 
have its way in everything. 

" 'At least,' said he, 'you will not have me ar- 
rested at once. It would be to your advantage as 
well as mine if I might leave the house for five min- 
utes.' 

" 'That you may get away, or perhaps that you 
may conceal what you have stolen,' said I. And 
then, realising the dreadful position in which I was 
placed, I implored him to remember that not only 
my honour but that of one who was far greater 
than I was at stake; and that he threatened to raise 
a scandal which would convulse the nation. He 
might avert it all if he would but tell me what he 
had done with the three missing stones. 

" 'You may as well face the matter,' said I; 
'you have been caught in the act, and no confes- 
sion could make your guilt more heinous. If you 
but make such reparation as is in your power, by 
telling us where the beryls are, all shall be forgiven 
and forgotten.' 

" 'Keep your forgiveness for those who ask for 
it,' he answered, turning away from me with a 
sneer. I saw that he was too hardened for any 
words of mine to influence him. There was but 
one way for it. I called in the inspector and gave 
him into custody. A search was made at once not 
only of his person but of his room and of every 
portion of the house where he could possibly have 
concealed the gems; but no trace of them could 
be found, nor would the wretched boy open his 
mouth for all our persuasions and our threats. 
This morning he was removed to a cell, and I, af- 
ter going through all the police formalities, have 
hurried round to you to implore you to use your 
skill in unravelling the matter. The police have 
openly confessed that they can at present make 
nothing of it. You may go to any expense which 
you think necessary. I have already offered a re- 
ward of £1000. My God, what shall I do! I have lost 
my honour, my gems, and my son in one night. 
Oh, what shall I do!" 

He put a hand on either side of his head and 
rocked himself to and fro, droning to himself like 
a child whose grief has got beyond words. 

Sherlock Holmes sat silent for some few min- 
utes, with his brows knitted and his eyes fixed 
upon the fire. 

"Do you receive much company?" he asked. 



"None save my partner with his family and an 
occasional friend of Arthur's. Sir George Burnwell 
has been several times lately. No one else, I think." 

"Do you go out much in society?" 

"Arthur does. Mary and I stay at home. We 
neither of us care for it. " 

"That is unusual in a young girl." 

"She is of a quiet nature. Besides, she is not so 
very young. She is four-and-twenty." 

"This matter, from what you say, seems to have 
been a shock to her also." 

"Terrible! She is even more affected than I." 

"You have neither of you any doubt as to your 
son's guilt?" 

"How can we have when I saw him with my 
own eyes with the coronet in his hands." 

"I hardly consider that a conclusive proof. Was 
the remainder of the coronet at all injured?" 

"Yes, it was twisted." 

"Do you not think, then, that he might have 
been trying to straighten it?" 

"God bless you! You are doing what you can 
for him and for me. But it is too heavy a task. 
What was he doing there at all? If his purpose 
were innocent, why did he not say so?" 

"Precisely. And if it were guilty, why did he 
not invent a lie? His silence appears to me to cut 
both ways. There are several singular points about 
the case. What did the police think of the noise 
which awoke you from your sleep?" 

"They considered that it might be caused by 
Arthur 's closing his bedroom door. " 

"A likely story! As if a man bent on felony 
would slam his door so as to wake a household. 
What did they say, then, of the disappearance of 
these gems?" 

"They are still sounding the planking and 
probing the furniture in the hope of finding them." 

"Have they thought of looking outside the 
house?" 

"Yes, they have shown extraordinary energy. 
The whole garden has already been minutely ex- 
amined." 

"Now, my dear sir," said Holmes, "is it not 
obvious to you now that this matter really strikes 
very much deeper than either you or the police 
were at first inclined to think? It appeared to you 
to be a simple case; to me it seems exceedingly 
complex. Consider what is involved by your the- 
ory. You suppose that your son came down from 
his bed, went, at great risk, to your dressing-room, 
opened your bureau, took out your coronet, broke 
off by main force a small portion of it, went off 



255 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 



to some other place, concealed three gems out of 
the thirty-nine, with such skill that nobody can 
find them, and then returned with the other thirty- 
six into the room in which he exposed himself to 
the greatest danger of being discovered. I ask you 
now, is such a theory tenable?" 

"But what other is there?" cried the banker 
with a gesture of despair. "If his motives were in- 
nocent, why does he not explain them?" 

"It is our task to find that out," replied Holmes; 
"so now, if you please, Mr. Holder, we will set 
off for Streatham together, and devote an hour to 
glancing a little more closely into details." 

My friend insisted upon my accompanying 
them in their expedition, which I was eager 
enough to do, for my curiosity and sympathy were 
deeply stirred by the story to which we had lis- 
tened. I confess that the guilt of the banker's 
son appeared to me to be as obvious as it did to 
his unhappy father, but still I had such faith in 
Holmes' judgment that I felt that there must be 
some grounds for hope as long as he was dissat- 
isfied with the accepted explanation. He hardly 
spoke a word the whole way out to the southern 
suburb, but sat with his chin upon his breast and 
his hat drawn over his eyes, sunk in the deepest 
thought. Our client appeared to have taken fresh 
heart at the little glimpse of hope which had been 
presented to him, and he even broke into a desul- 
tory chat with me over his business affairs. A 
short railway journey and a shorter walk brought 
us to Fairbank, the modest residence of the great 
financier. 

Fairbank was a good-sized square house of 
white stone, standing back a little from the road. 
A double carriage-sweep, with a snow-clad lawn, 
stretched down in front to two large iron gates 
which closed the entrance. On the right side was 
a small wooden thicket, which led into a narrow 
path between two neat hedges stretching from the 
road to the kitchen door, and forming the trades- 
men's entrance. On the left ran a lane which 
led to the stables, and was not itself within the 
grounds at all, being a public, though little used, 
thoroughfare. Holmes left us standing at the door 
and walked slowly all round the house, across the 
front, down the tradesmen's path, and so round by 
the garden behind into the stable lane. So long was 
he that Mr. Holder and I went into the dining-room 
and waited by the fire until he should return. We 
were sitting there in silence when the door opened 
and a young lady came in. She was rather above 
the middle height, slim, with dark hair and eyes, 



which seemed the darker against the absolute pal- 
lor of her skin. I do not think that I have ever seen 
such deadly paleness in a woman's face. Her lips, 
too, were bloodless, but her eyes were flushed with 
crying. As she swept silently into the room she 
impressed me with a greater sense of grief than 
the banker had done in the morning, and it was 
the more striking in her as she was evidently a 
woman of strong character, with immense capac- 
ity for self-restraint. Disregarding my presence, 
she went straight to her uncle and passed her hand 
over his head with a sweet womanly caress. 

"You have given orders that Arthur should be 
liberated, have you not, dad?" she asked. 

"No, no, my girl, the matter must be probed to 
the bottom." 

"But I am so sure that he is innocent. You know 
what woman's instincts are. I know that he has 
done no harm and that you will be sorry for hav- 
ing acted so harshly." 

"Why is he silent, then, if he is innocent?" 

"Who knows? Perhaps because he was so an- 
gry that you should suspect him." 

"How could I help suspecting him, when I ac- 
tually saw him with the coronet in his hand?" 

"Oh, but he had only picked it up to look at 
it. Oh, do, do take my word for it that he is inno- 
cent. Let the matter drop and say no more. It is so 
dreadful to think of our dear Arthur in a prison! " 

"I shall never let it drop until the gems are 
found — never, Mary! Your affection for Arthur 
blinds you as to the awful consequences to me. Far 
from hushing the thing up, I have brought a gen- 
tleman down from London to inquire more deeply 
into it." 

"This gentleman?" she asked, facing round to 
me. 

"No, his friend. He wished us to leave him 
alone. He is round in the stable lane now." 

"The stable lane?" She raised her dark eye- 
brows. "What can he hope to find there? Ah! this, 
I suppose, is he. I trust, sir, that you will succeed 
in proving, what I feel sure is the truth, that my 
cousin Arthur is innocent of this crime." 

"I fully share your opinion, and I trust, with 
you, that we may prove it," returned Holmes, go- 
ing back to the mat to knock the snow from his 
shoes. "I believe I have the honour of addressing 
Miss Mary Holder. Might I ask you a question or 
two?" 

"Pray do, sir, if it may help to clear this horrible 
affair up." 



256 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 



"You heard nothing yourself last night?" 

"Nothing, until my uncle here began to speak 
loudly. I heard that, and I came down." 

"You shut up the windows and doors the night 
before. Did you fasten all the windows?" 

"Yes." 

"Were they all fastened this morning?" 

"Yes." 

"You have a maid who has a sweetheart? I 
think that you remarked to your uncle last night 
that she had been out to see him?" 

"Yes, and she was the girl who waited in the 
drawing-room, and who may have heard uncle's 
remarks about the coronet." 

"I see. You infer that she may have gone out 
to tell her sweetheart, and that the two may have 
planned the robbery." 

"But what is the good of all these vague theo- 
ries," cried the banker impatiently, "when I have 
told you that I saw Arthur with the coronet in his 
hands?" 

"Wait a little, Mr. Holder. We must come back 
to that. About this girl, Miss Holder. You saw her 
return by the kitchen door, I presume?" 

"Yes; when I went to see if the door was fas- 
tened for the night I met her slipping in. I saw the 
man, too, in the gloom." 

"Do you know him?" 

"Oh, yes! he is the green-grocer who brings our 
vegetables round. His name is Francis Prosper." 

"He stood," said Holmes, "to the left of the 
door — that is to say, farther up the path than is 
necessary to reach the door?" 

"Yes, he did." 

"And he is a man with a wooden leg?" 

Something like fear sprang up in the young 
lady's expressive black eyes. "Why, you are like 
a magician," said she. "How do you know that?" 
She smiled, but there was no answering smile in 
Holmes' thin, eager face. 

"I should be very glad now to go upstairs," said 
he. "I shall probably wish to go over the outside of 
the house again. Perhaps I had better take a look 
at the lower windows before I go up." 

He walked swiftly round from one to the other, 
pausing only at the large one which looked from 
the hall onto the stable lane. This he opened and 
made a very careful examination of the sill with 
his powerful magnifying lens. "Now we shall go 
upstairs," said he at last. 



The banker's dressing-room was a plainly fur- 
nished little chamber, with a grey carpet, a large 
bureau, and a long mirror. Holmes went to the 
bureau first and looked hard at the lock. 

"Which key was used to open it?" he asked. 

"That which my son himself indicated — that of 
the cupboard of the lumber-room." 

"Have you it here?" 

"That is it on the dressing-table." 

Sherlock Holmes took it up and opened the bu- 
reau. 

"It is a noiseless lock," said he. "It is no won- 
der that it did not wake you. This case, I presume, 
contains the coronet. We must have a look at it." 
He opened the case, and taking out the diadem he 
laid it upon the table. It was a magnificent speci- 
men of the jeweller's art, and the thirty-six stones 
were the finest that I have ever seen. At one side 
of the coronet was a cracked edge, where a corner 
holding three gems had been torn away. 

"Now, Mr. Holder," said Holmes, "here is the 
corner which corresponds to that which has been 
so unfortunately lost. Might I beg that you will 
break it off." 

The banker recoiled in horror. "I should not 
dream of trying," said he. 

"Then I will." Holmes suddenly bent his 
strength upon it, but without result. "I feel it give 
a little," said he; "but, though I am exceptionally 
strong in the fingers, it would take me all my time 
to break it. An ordinary man could not do it. Now, 
what do you think would happen if I did break it, 
Mr. Holder? There would be a noise like a pistol 
shot. Do you tell me that all this happened within 
a few yards of your bed and that you heard noth- 
ing of it?" 

"I do not know what to think. It is all dark to 
me." 

"But perhaps it may grow lighter as we go. 
What do you think, Miss Holder?" 

"I confess that I still share my uncle's perplex- 
ity" 

"Your son had no shoes or slippers on when 
you saw him?" 

"He had nothing on save only his trousers and 
shirt." 

"Thank you. We have certainly been favoured 
with extraordinary luck during this inquiry, and it 
will be entirely our own fault if we do not succeed 
in clearing the matter up. With your permission, 
Mr. Holder, I shall now continue my investigations 
outside." 

He went alone, at his own request, for he 
explained that any unnecessary footmarks might 



257 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 



make his task more difficult. For an hour or more 
he was at work, returning at last with his feet 
heavy with snow and his features as inscrutable 
as ever. 

"I think that I have seen now all that there is to 
see, Mr. Holder," said he; "I can serve you best by 
returning to my rooms." 

"But the gems, Mr. Holmes. Where are they?" 

"I cannot tell." 

The banker wrung his hands. "I shall never see 
them again!" he cried. "And my son? You give me 
hopes?" 

"My opinion is in no way altered." 

"Then, for God's sake, what was this dark busi- 
ness which was acted in my house last night?" 

"If you can call upon me at my Baker Street 
rooms to-morrow morning between nine and ten I 
shall be happy to do what I can to make it clearer. I 
understand that you give me carte blanche to act for 
you, provided only that I get back the gems, and 
that you place no limit on the sum I may draw." 

"I would give my fortune to have them back." 

"Very good. I shall look into the matter be- 
tween this and then. Good-bye; it is just possible 
that I may have to come over here again before 
evening." 

It was obvious to me that my companion's 
mind was now made up about the case, although 
what his conclusions were was more than I could 
even dimly imagine. Several times during our 
homeward journey I endeavoured to sound him 
upon the point, but he always glided away to some 
other topic, until at last I gave it over in despair. 
It was not yet three when we found ourselves in 
our rooms once more. He hurried to his cham- 
ber and was down again in a few minutes dressed 
as a common loafer. With his collar turned up, 
his shiny, seedy coat, his red cravat, and his worn 
boots, he was a perfect sample of the class. 

"I think that this should do," said he, glancing 
into the glass above the fireplace. "I only wish that 
you could come with me, Watson, but I fear that it 
won't do. I may be on the trail in this matter, or 
I may be following a will-o'-the-wisp, but I shall 
soon know which it is. I hope that I may be back 
in a few hours." He cut a slice of beef from the 
joint upon the sideboard, sandwiched it between 
two rounds of bread, and thrusting this rude meal 
into his pocket he started off upon his expedition. 

I had just finished my tea when he returned, 
evidently in excellent spirits, swinging an old 



elastic-sided boot in his hand. He chucked it down 
into a corner and helped himself to a cup of tea. 

"I only looked in as I passed," said he. "I am 
going right on." 

"Where to?" 

"Oh, to the other side of the West End. It may 
be some time before I get back. Don't wait up for 
me in case I should be late." 

"How are you getting on?" 

"Oh, so so. Nothing to complain of. I have been 
out to Streatham since I saw you last, but I did not 
call at the house. It is a very sweet little problem, 
and I would not have missed it for a good deal. 
However, I must not sit gossiping here, but must 
get these disreputable clothes off and return to my 
highly respectable self." 

I could see by his manner that he had stronger 
reasons for satisfaction than his words alone 
would imply. His eyes twinkled, and there was 
even a touch of colour upon his sallow cheeks. He 
hastened upstairs, and a few minutes later I heard 
the slam of the hall door, which told me that he 
was off once more upon his congenial hunt. 

I waited until midnight, but there was no sign 
of his return, so I retired to my room. It was no 
uncommon thing for him to be away for days and 
nights on end when he was hot upon a scent, so 
that his lateness caused me no surprise. I do not 
know at what hour he came in, but when I came 
down to breakfast in the morning there he was 
with a cup of coffee in one hand and the paper 
in the other, as fresh and trim as possible. 

"You will excuse my beginning without you, 
Watson," said he, "but you remember that our 
client has rather an early appointment this morn- 
ing." 

"Why, it is after nine now," I answered. "I 
should not be surprised if that were he. I thought 
I heard a ring." 

It was, indeed, our friend the financier. I was 
shocked by the change which had come over him, 
for his face which was naturally of a broad and 
massive mould, was now pinched and fallen in, 
while his hair seemed to me at least a shade whiter. 
He entered with a weariness and lethargy which 
was even more painful than his violence of the 
morning before, and he dropped heavily into the 
armchair which I pushed forward for him. 

"I do not know what I have done to be so 
severely tried," said he. "Only two days ago I was 
a happy and prosperous man, without a care in 



258 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 



the world. Now I am left to a lonely and dishon- 
oured age. One sorrow comes close upon the heels 
of another. My niece, Mary, has deserted me." 

"Deserted you?" 

"Yes. Her bed this morning had not been slept 
in, her room was empty, and a note for me lay 
upon the hall table. I had said to her last night, in 
sorrow and not in anger, that if she had married 
my boy all might have been well with him. Per- 
haps it was thoughtless of me to say so. It is to 
that remark that she refers in this note: 

" 'My dearest Uncle: 

" T feel that I have brought trouble 
upon you, and that if I had acted dif- 
ferently this terrible misfortune might 
never have occurred. I cannot, with 
this thought in my mind, ever again be 
happy under your roof, and I feel that 
I must leave you forever. Do not worry 
about my future, for that is provided 
for; and, above all, do not search for 
me, for it will be fruitless labour and 
an ill-service to me. In life or in death, 
I am ever 

" 'Your loving 
" 'Mary.' 

"What could she mean by that note, Mr. 
Holmes? Do you think it points to suicide?" 

"No, no, nothing of the kind. It is perhaps the 
best possible solution. I trust, Mr. Holder, that you 
are nearing the end of your troubles." 

"Ha! You say so! You have heard something, 
Mr. Holmes; you have learned something! Where 
are the gems?" 

"You would not think £1000 pounds apiece an 
excessive sum for them?" 

"I would pay ten." 

"That would be unnecessary. Three thousand 
will cover the matter. And there is a little reward, 
I fancy. Have you your check-book? Here is a pen. 
Better make it out for £4000." 

With a dazed face the banker made out the re- 
quired check. Holmes walked over to his desk, 
took out a little triangular piece of gold with three 
gems in it, and threw it down upon the table. 

With a shriek of joy our client clutched it up. 

"You have it!" he gasped. "I am saved! I am 
saved!" 

The reaction of joy was as passionate as his 
grief had been, and he hugged his recovered gems 
to his bosom. 



"There is one other thing you owe, Mr. Holder," 
said Sherlock Holmes rather sternly. 

"Owe!" He caught up a pen. "Name the sum, 
and I will pay it. " 

"No, the debt is not to me. You owe a very 
humble apology to that noble lad, your son, who 
has carried himself in this matter as I should be 
proud to see my own son do, should I ever chance 
to have one." 

"Then it was not Arthur who took them?" 

"I told you yesterday, and I repeat to-day, that 
it was not." 

"You are sure of it! Then let us hurry to him at 
once to let him know that the truth is known." 

"He knows it already. When I had cleared it all 
up I had an interview with him, and finding that 
he would not tell me the story, I told it to him, on 
which he had to confess that I was right and to 
add the very few details which were not yet quite 
clear to me. Your news of this morning, however, 
may open his lips." 

"For heaven's sake, tell me, then, what is this 
extraordinary mystery!" 

"I will do so, and I will show you the steps by 
which I reached it. And let me say to you, first, 
that which it is hardest for me to say and for you 
to hear: there has been an understanding between 
Sir George Burnwell and your niece Mary. They 
have now fled together." 

"My Mary? Impossible!" 

"It is unfortunately more than possible; it is cer- 
tain. Neither you nor your son knew the true char- 
acter of this man when you admitted him into your 
family circle. He is one of the most dangerous men 
in England — a ruined gambler, an absolutely des- 
perate villain, a man without heart or conscience. 
Your niece knew nothing of such men. When he 
breathed his vows to her, as he had done to a hun- 
dred before her, she flattered herself that she alone 
had touched his heart. The devil knows best what 
he said, but at least she became his tool and was 
in the habit of seeing him nearly every evening." 

"I cannot, and I will not, believe it!" cried the 
banker with an ashen face. 

"I will tell you, then, what occurred in your 
house last night. Your niece, when you had, as 
she thought, gone to your room, slipped down 
and talked to her lover through the window which 
leads into the stable lane. His footmarks had 
pressed right through the snow, so long had he 
stood there. She told him of the coronet. His 
wicked lust for gold kindled at the news, and he 
bent her to his will. I have no doubt that she loved 
you, but there are women in whom the love of a 



259 



The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 



lover extinguishes all other loves, and I think that 
she must have been one. She had hardly listened to 
his instructions when she saw you coming down- 
stairs, on which she closed the window rapidly 
and told you about one of the servants' escapade 
with her wooden-legged lover, which was all per- 
fectly true. 

"Your boy, Arthur, went to bed after his inter- 
view with you but he slept badly on account of 
his uneasiness about his club debts. In the mid- 
dle of the night he heard a soft tread pass his 
door, so he rose and, looking out, was surprised 
to see his cousin walking very stealthily along the 
passage until she disappeared into your dressing- 
room. Petrified with astonishment, the lad slipped 
on some clothes and waited there in the dark to see 
what would come of this strange affair. Presently 
she emerged from the room again, and in the light 
of the passage-lamp your son saw that she car- 
ried the precious coronet in her hands. She passed 
down the stairs, and he, thrilling with horror, ran 
along and slipped behind the curtain near your 
door, whence he could see what passed in the hall 
beneath. He saw her stealthily open the window, 
hand out the coronet to someone in the gloom, and 
then closing it once more hurry back to her room, 
passing quite close to where he stood hid behind 
the curtain. 

"As long as she was on the scene he could not 
take any action without a horrible exposure of the 
woman whom he loved. But the instant that she 
was gone he realised how crushing a misfortune 
this would be for you, and how all-important it 
was to set it right. He rushed down, just as he 
was, in his bare feet, opened the window, sprang 
out into the snow, and ran down the lane, where 
he could see a dark figure in the moonlight. Sir 
George Burnwell tried to get away, but Arthur 
caught him, and there was a struggle between 
them, your lad tugging at one side of the coro- 
net, and his opponent at the other. In the scuffle, 
your son struck Sir George and cut him over the 
eye. Then something suddenly snapped, and your 
son, finding that he had the coronet in his hands, 
rushed back, closed the window, ascended to your 
room, and had just observed that the coronet had 
been twisted in the struggle and was endeavour- 
ing to straighten it when you appeared upon the 
scene." 

"Is it possible?" gasped the banker. 

"You then roused his anger by calling him 
names at a moment when he felt that he had de- 
served your warmest thanks. He could not explain 
the true state of affairs without betraying one who 



certainly deserved little enough consideration at 
his hands. He took the more chivalrous view, how- 
ever, and preserved her secret." 

"And that was why she shrieked and fainted 
when she saw the coronet," cried Mr. Holder. "Oh, 
my God! what a blind fool I have been! And his 
asking to be allowed to go out for five minutes! 
The dear fellow wanted to see if the missing piece 
were at the scene of the struggle. How cruelly I 
have misjudged him!" 

"When I arrived at the house," continued 
Holmes, "I at once went very carefully round it to 
observe if there were any traces in the snow which 
might help me. I knew that none had fallen since 
the evening before, and also that there had been 
a strong frost to preserve impressions. I passed 
along the tradesmen's path, but found it all tram- 
pled down and indistinguishable. Just beyond it, 
however, at the far side of the kitchen door, a 
woman had stood and talked with a man, whose 
round impressions on one side showed that he had 
a wooden leg. I could even tell that they had been 
disturbed, for the woman had run back swiftly to 
the door, as was shown by the deep toe and light 
heel marks, while Wooden-leg had waited a little, 
and then had gone away. I thought at the time 
that this might be the maid and her sweetheart, 
of whom you had already spoken to me, and in- 
quiry showed it was so. I passed round the garden 
without seeing anything more than random tracks, 
which I took to be the police; but when I got into 
the stable lane a very long and complex story was 
written in the snow in front of me. 

"There was a double line of tracks of a booted 
man, and a second double line which I saw with 
delight belonged to a man with naked feet. I was 
at once convinced from what you had told me that 
the latter was your son. The first had walked both 
ways, but the other had run swiftly, and as his 
tread was marked in places over the depression 
of the boot, it was obvious that he had passed af- 
ter the other. I followed them up and found they 
led to the hall window, where Boots had worn 
all the snow away while waiting. Then I walked 
to the other end, which was a hundred yards or 
more down the lane. I saw where Boots had faced 
round, where the snow was cut up as though there 
had been a struggle, and, finally, where a few 
drops of blood had fallen, to show me that I was 
not mistaken. Boots had then run down the lane, 
and another little smudge of blood showed that it 
was he who had been hurt. When he came to the 
highroad at the other end, I found that the pave- 
ment had been cleared, so there was an end to that 
clue. 



260 



"On entering the house, however, I examined, 
as you remember, the sill and framework of the 
hall window with my lens, and I could at once 
see that someone had passed out. I could distin- 
guish the outline of an instep where the wet foot 
had been placed in coming in. I was then begin- 
ning to be able to form an opinion as to what had 
occurred. A man had waited outside the window; 
someone had brought the gems; the deed had been 
overseen by your son; he had pursued the thief; 
had struggled with him; they had each tugged at 
the coronet, their united strength causing injuries 
which neither alone could have effected. He had 
returned with the prize, but had left a fragment in 
the grasp of his opponent. So far I was clear. The 
question now was, who was the man and who was 
it brought him the coronet? 

"It is an old maxim of mine that when you have 
excluded the impossible, whatever remains, how- 
ever improbable, must be the truth. Now, I knew 
that it was not you who had brought it down, so 
there only remained your niece and the maids. But 
if it were the maids, why should your son allow 
himself to be accused in their place? There could 
be no possible reason. As he loved his cousin, 
however, there was an excellent explanation why 
he should retain her secret — the more so as the se- 
cret was a disgraceful one. When I remembered 
that you had seen her at that window, and how 
she had fainted on seeing the coronet again, my 
conjecture became a certainty. 

"And who could it be who was her confeder- 
ate? A lover evidently, for who else could out- 
weigh the love and gratitude which she must feel 
to you? I knew that you went out little, and that 
your circle of friends was a very limited one. But 
among them was Sir George Burnwell. I had heard 
of him before as being a man of evil reputation 
among women. It must have been he who wore 
those boots and retained the missing gems. Even 
though he knew that Arthur had discovered him, 
he might still flatter himself that he was safe, for 
the lad could not say a word without compromis- 
ing his own family. 

"Well, your own good sense will suggest what 
measures I took next. I went in the shape of a 
loafer to Sir George's house, managed to pick up 



an acquaintance with his valet, learned that his 
master had cut his head the night before, and, fi- 
nally, at the expense of six shillings, made all sure 
by buying a pair of his cast-off shoes. With these 
I journeyed down to Streatham and saw that they 
exactly fitted the tracks." 

"I saw an ill-dressed vagabond in the lane yes- 
terday evening," said Mr. Holder. 

"Precisely. It was I. I found that I had my man, 
so I came home and changed my clothes. It was 
a delicate part which I had to play then, for I saw 
that a prosecution must be avoided to avert scan- 
dal, and I knew that so astute a villain would see 
that our hands were tied in the matter. I went and 
saw him. At first, of course, he denied everything. 
But when I gave him every particular that had oc- 
curred, he tried to bluster and took down a life- 
preserver from the wall. I knew my man, however, 
and I clapped a pistol to his head before he could 
strike. Then he became a little more reasonable. I 
told him that we would give him a price for the 
stones he held — £1000 apiece. That brought out 
the first signs of grief that he had shown. 'Why, 
dash it all!' said he, 'I've let them go at six hun- 
dred for the three!' I soon managed to get the ad- 
dress of the receiver who had them, on promising 
him that there would be no prosecution. Off I set 
to him, and after much chaffering I got our stones 
at 1000 pounds apiece. Then I looked in upon your 
son, told him that all was right, and eventually got 
to my bed about two o'clock, after what I may call 
a really hard day's work." 

"A day which has saved England from a great 
public scandal," said the banker, rising. "Sir, I can- 
not find words to thank you, but you shall not find 
me ungrateful for what you have done. Your skill 
has indeed exceeded all that I have heard of it. 
And now I must fly to my dear boy to apologise to 
him for the wrong which I have done him. As to 
what you tell me of poor Mary, it goes to my very 
heart. Not even your skill can inform me where 
she is now." 

"I think that we may safely say," returned 
Holmes, "that she is wherever Sir George Burnwell 
is. It is equally certain, too, that whatever her sins 
are, they will soon receive a more than sufficient 
punishment. " 



The Adventure of the Copper Beeches 



The Adventure of the Copper Beeches 




\o the man who loves art for its own 
sake," remarked Sherlock Holmes, toss- 
ing aside the advertisement sheet of the 
Daily Telegraph, "it is frequently in its 
least important and lowliest manifestations that 
the keenest pleasure is to be derived. It is pleas- 
ant to me to observe, Watson, that you have so far 
grasped this truth that in these little records of our 
cases which you have been good enough to draw 
up, and, I am bound to say, occasionally to em- 
bellish, you have given prominence not so much 
to the many causes celebres and sensational trials 
in which I have figured but rather to those inci- 
dents which may have been trivial in themselves, 
but which have given room for those faculties of 
deduction and of logical synthesis which I have 
made my special province." 

"And yet," said I, smiling, "I cannot quite hold 
myself absolved from the charge of sensationalism 
which has been urged against my records." 

"You have erred, perhaps," he observed, taking 
up a glowing cinder with the tongs and lighting 
with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont 
to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious 
rather than a meditative mood — "you have erred 
perhaps in attempting to put colour and life into 
each of your statements instead of confining your- 
self to the task of placing upon record that severe 
reasoning from cause to effect which is really the 
only notable feature about the thing." 

"It seems to me that I have done you full justice 
in the matter," I remarked with some coldness, for 
I was repelled by the egotism which I had more 
than once observed to be a strong factor in my 
friend's singular character. 

"No, it is not selfishness or conceit," said he, 
answering, as was his wont, my thoughts rather 
than my words. "If I claim full justice for my art, it 
is because it is an impersonal thing — a thing be- 
yond myself. Crime is common. Logic is rare. 
Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the 
crime that you should dwell. You have degraded 
what should have been a course of lectures into a 
series of tales." 

It was a cold morning of the early spring, and 
we sat after breakfast on either side of a cheery 
fire in the old room at Baker Street. A thick fog 
rolled down between the lines of dun-coloured 
houses, and the opposing windows loomed like 
dark, shapeless blurs through the heavy yellow 
wreaths. Our gas was lit and shone on the white 
cloth and glimmer of china and metal, for the ta- 
ble had not been cleared yet. Sherlock Holmes had 
been silent all the morning, dipping continuously 



into the advertisement columns of a succession of 
papers until at last, having apparently given up his 
search, he had emerged in no very sweet temper to 
lecture me upon my literary shortcomings. 

"At the same time," he remarked after a pause, 
during which he had sat puffing at his long pipe 
and gazing down into the fire, "you can hardly be 
open to a charge of sensationalism, for out of these 
cases which you have been so kind as to interest 
yourself in, a fair proportion do not treat of crime, 
in its legal sense, at all. The small matter in which 
I endeavoured to help the King of Bohemia, the 
singular experience of Miss Mary Sutherland, the 
problem connected with the man with the twisted 
lip, and the incident of the noble bachelor, were 
all matters which are outside the pale of the law. 
But in avoiding the sensational, I fear that you may 
have bordered on the trivial." 

"The end may have been so," I answered, "but 
the methods I hold to have been novel and of in- 
terest." 

"Pshaw, my dear fellow, what do the public, 
the great unobservant public, who could hardly 
tell a weaver by his tooth or a compositor by his left 
thumb, care about the finer shades of analysis and 
deduction! But, indeed, if you are trivial. I can- 
not blame you, for the days of the great cases are 
past. Man, or at least criminal man, has lost all en- 
terprise and originality. As to my own little prac- 
tice, it seems to be degenerating into an agency for 
recovering lost lead pencils and giving advice to 
young ladies from boarding-schools. I think that 
I have touched bottom at last, however. This note 
I had this morning marks my zero-point, I fancy. 
Read it!" He tossed a crumpled letter across to me. 

It was dated from Montague Place upon the 
preceding evening, and ran thus: 

Dear Mr. Holmes: 

I am very anxious to consult you as 
to whether I should or should not ac- 
cept a situation which has been offered 
to me as governess. I shall call at half- 
past ten to-morrow if I do not inconve- 
nience you. 

Yours faithfully, 
Violet Hunter. 

"Do you know the young lady?" I asked. 

"Not I." 

"It is half -past ten now." 

"Yes, and I have no doubt that is her ring." 

"It may turn out to be of more interest than you 
think. You remember that the affair of the blue car- 
buncle, which appeared to be a mere whim at first, 



265 



The Adventure of the Copper Beeches 



developed into a serious investigation. It may be 
so in this case, also." 

"Well, let us hope so. But our doubts will very 
soon be solved, for here, unless I am much mis- 
taken, is the person in question." 

As he spoke the door opened and a young 
lady entered the room. She was plainly but neatly 
dressed, with a bright, quick face, freckled like 
a plover's egg, and with the brisk manner of a 
woman who has had her own way to make in the 
world. 

"You will excuse my troubling you, I am sure," 
said she, as my companion rose to greet her, "but I 
have had a very strange experience, and as I have 
no parents or relations of any sort from whom 
I could ask advice, I thought that perhaps you 
would be kind enough to tell me what I should 
do." 

"Pray take a seat, Miss Hunter. I shall be happy 
to do anything that I can to serve you." 

I could see that Holmes was favourably im- 
pressed by the manner and speech of his new 
client. He looked her over in his searching fashion, 
and then composed himself, with his lids drooping 
and his finger-tips together, to listen to her story. 

"I have been a governess for five years," said 
she, "in the family of Colonel Spence Munro, but 
two months ago the colonel received an appoint- 
ment at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, and took his chil- 
dren over to America with him, so that I found 
myself without a situation. I advertised, and I an- 
swered advertisements, but without success. At 
last the little money which I had saved began to 
run short, and I was at my wit's end as to what I 
should do. 

"There is a well-known agency for governesses 
in the West End called Westaway's, and there I 
used to call about once a week in order to see 
whether anything had turned up which might suit 
me. Westaway was the name of the founder of the 
business, but it is really managed by Miss Stoper. 
She sits in her own little office, and the ladies who 
are seeking employment wait in an anteroom, and 
are then shown in one by one, when she consults 
her ledgers and sees whether she has anything 
which would suit them. 

"Well, when I called last week I was shown 
into the little office as usual, but I found that 
Miss Stoper was not alone. A prodigiously stout 
man with a very smiling face and a great heavy 
chin which rolled down in fold upon fold over his 
throat sat at her elbow with a pair of glasses on 
his nose, looking very earnestly at the ladies who 



entered. As I came in he gave quite a jump in his 
chair and turned quickly to Miss Stoper. 

" 'That will do,' said he; 1 could not ask for 
anything better. Capital! capital!' He seemed quite 
enthusiastic and rubbed his hands together in the 
most genial fashion. He was such a comfortable- 
looking man that it was quite a pleasure to look at 
him. 

" 'You are looking for a situation, miss?' he 
asked. 

" 'Yes, sir.' 

" 'As governess?' 

" 'Yes, sir.' 

" 'And what salary do you ask?' 

" T had £4 a month in my last place with 
Colonel Spence Munro.' 

" 'Oh, tut, tut! sweating — rank sweating!' he 
cried, throwing his fat hands out into the air like 
a man who is in a boiling passion. 'How could 
anyone offer so pitiful a sum to a lady with such 
attractions and accomplishments?' 

" 'My accomplishments, sir, may be less than 
you imagine,' said I. 'A little French, a little Ger- 
man, music, and drawing — ' 

" 'Tut, tut!' he cried. 'This is all quite beside the 
question. The point is, have you or have you not 
the bearing and deportment of a lady? There it is 
in a nutshell. If you have not, you are not fitted for 
the rearing of a child who may some day play a 
considerable part in the history of the country. But 
if you have why, then, how could any gentleman 
ask you to condescend to accept anything under 
the three figures? Your salary with me, madam, 
would commence at £100 a year.' 

"You may imagine, Mr. Holmes, that to me, 
destitute as I was, such an offer seemed almost 
too good to be true. The gentleman, however, see- 
ing perhaps the look of incredulity upon my face, 
opened a pocket-book and took out a note. 

" 'It is also my custom,' said he, smiling in the 
most pleasant fashion until his eyes were just two 
little shining slits amid the white creases of his 
face, 'to advance to my young ladies half their 
salary beforehand, so that they may meet any little 
expenses of their journey and their wardrobe.' 

"It seemed to me that I had never met so fasci- 
nating and so thoughtful a man. As I was already 
in debt to my tradesmen, the advance was a great 
convenience, and yet there was something unnat- 
ural about the whole transaction which made me 
wish to know a little more before I quite commit- 
ted myself. 

" 'May I ask where you live, sir?' said I. 



266 



The Adventure of the Copper Beeches 



" 'Hampshire. Charming rural place. The Cop- 
per Beeches, five miles on the far side of Winch- 
ester. It is the most lovely country, my dear young 
lady, and the dearest old country-house.' 

" 'And my duties, sir? I should be glad to know 
what they would be.' 

" 'One child — one dear little romper just six 
years old. Oh, if you could see him killing cock- 
roaches with a slipper! Smack! smack! smack! 
Three gone before you could wink!' He leaned 
back in his chair and laughed his eyes into his head 
again. 

"I was a little startled at the nature of the 
child's amusement, but the father's laughter made 
me think that perhaps he was joking. 

" 'My sole duties, then,' I asked, 'are to take 
charge of a single child?' 

" 'No, no, not the sole, not the sole, my dear 
young lady,' he cried. 'Your duty would be, as I 
am sure your good sense would suggest, to obey 
any little commands my wife might give, provided 
always that they were such commands as a lady 
might with propriety obey. You see no difficulty, 
heh?' 

" T should be happy to make myself useful.' 

" 'Quite so. In dress now, for example. We are 
faddy people, you know — faddy but kind-hearted. 
If you were asked to wear any dress which we 
might give you, you would not object to our lit- 
tle whim. Heh?' 

"'No,' said I, considerably astonished at his 
words. 

" 'Or to sit here, or sit there, that would not be 
offensive to you?' 

" 'Oh, no.' 

" 'Or to cut your hair quite short before you 
come to us?' 

"I could hardly believe my ears. As you may 
observe, Mr. Holmes, my hair is somewhat luxu- 
riant, and of a rather peculiar tint of chestnut. It 
has been considered artistic. I could not dream of 
sacrificing it in this offhand fashion. 

" T am afraid that that is quite impossible,' said 
I. He had been watching me eagerly out of his 
small eyes, and I could see a shadow pass over 
his face as I spoke. 

" T am afraid that it is quite essential,' said he. 
'It is a little fancy of my wife's, and ladies' fan- 
cies, you know, madam, ladies' fancies must be 
consulted. And so you won't cut your hair?' 

" 'No, sir, I really could not,' I answered firmly. 



" 'Ah, very well; then that quite settles the mat- 
ter. It is a pity, because in other respects you 
would really have done very nicely. In that case, 
Miss Stoper, I had best inspect a few more of your 
young ladies.' 

"The manageress had sat all this while busy 
with her papers without a word to either of us, 
but she glanced at me now with so much annoy- 
ance upon her face that I could not help suspecting 
that she had lost a handsome commission through 
my refusal. 

" 'Do you desire your name to be kept upon the 
books?' she asked. 

" 'If you please, Miss Stoper.' 

" 'Well, really, it seems rather useless, since you 
refuse the most excellent offers in this fashion,' 
said she sharply. 'You can hardly expect us to ex- 
ert ourselves to find another such opening for you. 
Good-day to you, Miss Hunter.' She struck a gong 
upon the table, and I was shown out by the page. 

"Well, Mr. Holmes, when I got back to my lodg- 
ings and found little enough in the cupboard, and 
two or three bills upon the table. I began to ask 
myself whether I had not done a very foolish thing. 
After all, if these people had strange fads and ex- 
pected obedience on the most extraordinary mat- 
ters, they were at least ready to pay for their ec- 
centricity. Very few governesses in England are 
getting £100 a year. Besides, what use was my hair 
to me? Many people are improved by wearing it 
short and perhaps I should be among the number. 
Next day I was inclined to think that I had made a 
mistake, and by the day after I was sure of it. I had 
almost overcome my pride so far as to go back to 
the agency and inquire whether the place was still 
open when I received this letter from the gentle- 
man himself. I have it here and I will read it to 
you: 



" 'The Copper Beeches, near Winchester. 
" 'Dear Miss Hunter: 

" 'Miss Stoper has very kindly given 
me your address, and I write from here 
to ask you whether you have reconsid- 
ered your decision. My wife is very 
anxious that you should come, for she 
has been much attracted by my de- 
scription of you. We are willing to 
give £30 a quarter, or £120 a year, so 
as to recompense you for any little in- 
convenience which our fads may cause 
you. They are not very exacting, af- 
ter all. My wife is fond of a particular 



267 



The Adventure of the Copper Beeches 



shade of electric blue and would like 
you to wear such a dress indoors in 
the morning. You need not, however, 
go to the expense of purchasing one, 
as we have one belonging to my dear 
daughter Alice (now in Philadelphia), 
which would, I should think, fit you 
very well. Then, as to sitting here or 
there, or amusing yourself in any man- 
ner indicated, that need cause you no 
inconvenience. As regards your hair, 
it is no doubt a pity, especially as I 
could not help remarking its beauty 
during our short interview, but I am 
afraid that I must remain firm upon 
this point, and I only hope that the 
increased salary may recompense you 
for the loss. Your duties, as far as the 
child is concerned, are very light. Now 
do try to come, and I shall meet you 
with the dog-cart at Winchester. Let 
me know your train. 

" 'Yours faithfully, 
" 'Tephro Rucastle.' 

"That is the letter which I have just received, 
Mr. Holmes, and my mind is made up that I will 
accept it. I thought, however, that before taking the 
final step I should like to submit the whole matter 
to your consideration." 

"Well, Miss Hunter, if your mind is made up, 
that settles the question," said Holmes, smiling. 

"But you would not advise me to refuse?" 

"I confess that it is not the situation which I 
should like to see a sister of mine apply for." 

"What is the meaning of it all, Mr. Holmes?" 

"Ah, I have no data. I cannot tell. Perhaps you 
have yourself formed some opinion?" 

"Well, there seems to me to be only one pos- 
sible solution. Mr. Rucastle seemed to be a very 
kind, good-natured man. Is it not possible that his 
wife is a lunatic, that he desires to keep the matter 
quiet for fear she should be taken to an asylum, 
and that he humours her fancies in every way in 
order to prevent an outbreak?" 

"That is a possible solution — in fact, as matters 
stand, it is the most probable one. But in any case 
it does not seem to be a nice household for a young 
lady." 

"But the money, Mr. Holmes, the money!